Monday, 22 September 2008

Frendo Spur

Well we're back !

Good luck with the weather allowed us time to acclimatise with a walk-in on Tuesday, a coke at the Plan de Aiguille mid station and an afternoon of leisured study of the Frendo Spur from the bivvi site on the medial moraine ridge below the route. An early start next morning with the stars and a full moon to show us the way led to the base of the rock. Our guide book needs updating! the snow ramp start no longer exists - we zig zagged right and left until we reached the chimneys which proved to be constricting with big bags and time consuming; then onto the spur proper and with excellent protection all the way up we were beginning to relax. Climbing the crux sections with big boots and big bags took a lot of energy and we were relieved to finally get to the bivvi ledge. The Telephrique looked very close and it was tempting to push on up the snow slopes as we contemplated a cold and uncomfortable night !

An altitude headache , a long day and the prospect of a bivvi in the station tunnel persuaded us to stay put until early next morning but with the indicators of a front coming in - high cirrus , ice halo and forecast from the Office de Tourisme - we kept a check through the night. At first light we were at the base of the rognon after plodding up the snow ridge bathed in moonlight, and after 3 long traverses rounded the corner towards the exit slopes.With the sun up, headaches gone, excellent ice and the occupants of the telephriques waving to us, we enjoyed the last exit gully to finish on the arete leading to the top station - sunglasses, photos and handshakes!

The front came in late afternoon bringing thunderstorms , prolonged rain in the valley and 8 hrs of snow above 2500 mtrs - it looked like the Cosmiques ridge was going to be out of condition for the time being ! A leisurely day taking photos from the Flegere ensued with plans for a cragging day for Saturday. With blue skies, sunshine and the mountains coated in a fresh mantle of white, the cragging plan was dumped and a trip up the Mer de Glace with a stay at the Leschaux hut seemed a good way to finish the trip - and it was !


The constricting chimneys on the lower section of the Frendo can be avoided by an earlier exit of the ramps - but where I don't know.

Rope drag around the second difficult section of the upper steepening might be avoided if the block on the start of the rightward leading ledge is taken on the right.

Excellent bivvi site 50 mtrs up medial moraine ridge from the path marker from the mid station.

Mer De Glace Campsite at La Praz is highly recommended.