I just said "I'm keen for whatever" not really knowing this would end up in 4 day outing on Les Droites. Ecallie Epique to our Knowledge had never been repeated and before we left Will proceeded to tell me about each of the first ascentionist and how each of them were French wads. It took them 4 days and they didnt call it ecaille epique for nothing!
In the end its wasn't to bad but there was lots of hard climbing, Will cruised the pitch that gave the route its name and displayed some good guide skills and lead all of the upper part of the torrino spur on the last day.
e got the first lift up to the G.M station and after a 5 minuet ski we were making the 20 minuet walk to the start of the climbing. A classic Chamonix approach.
After slogging up some deep snow for the first 300m we reached the base of the hard climbing this is Will on the first of 2 M5 pitches that day.
We arrived at the first Bivi at 6pm after a relative relaxed day knowing that there was no Bivi sites after this one for a long way. We got to test our light weight sleeping system of one sleeping bag that had an extra bit of material stitched on.
After a long night, mainly due to our light weight sleeping system the sun rose and we could enjoy the heat as we got ready to move of.
Will on the second to last pitch of day 2, before this had been M5+, M6, M5+, M5+, M6, M5, M5+ only 2 M5/+ pitches left for the day. All of them involved intricate mixed climbing unlike most Chamonix mixed climbs which tend to follow very obvious cracks.
The result of all the mixed climbing was that by the time we got to the end of day 2 our crampons and axes were very blunt, but it was dark we were tired and we had a tiny file so we could only be bothered sharpening our crampons.
The morning of day 3 after another night in the suffer bag, getting ready in the morning was improved massively by sun.
Will on the last pitch of day 2
After getting slightly lost at the start of the day we found the base of the final headwall and after Will made the epic flake pitch look very un epic. The next pitch had a short traverse photoed here followed by a perfect 40m hand crack!
Will on the 40m hand crack. The next pitch had a short steep bulge followed by some easy mixed to the North East Spur. Although this felt like a mile stone to get to we knew it had taken the French team a whole day to get from there to the summit. I sent Will first and took the heavy bag and extra rope and gear, Will did a really good job picking the correct way to weave up the spur.
After What felt like ages we got to the ice field 200m below the summit, it was very tempting to continue up the spur rather than traverse the black ice and finish up the North Face. But at least we knew it wouldn't be a dead end so I sucked it up and started leading.
Will enjoying climbing black ice with blunt axes.
Will waking up on the summit, contemplating the long walk back to Chamonix.