Uisdean Hawthorn
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Climbing

Tear Drops on The Dru

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Flick Flick Flick swap hands and flick my other hand. “Breathe and USE YOUR FEET” a voice in my head screams. I adjust my feet trying to get as much weight on them as possible by standing on a little ledge. As I do this I look down, one of the ropes sways in the void of air below me. My tired brain puts a little bit of fear in my head by questioning the integrity of the 4inch wide “Ice ledge” I'm standing on. It juts out off the ice, nothing under it for 50 meters. The smear of ice this ledge is attached too, slivers its way down the right wall to form a tear drop 3meters long.  I swap hands and flick again and try and focus on what to do next, “GEAR I reach round my harness flick an ice screw from my clipper and after some choice words manage to place it clip my last quick draw through the eye and put the rope into it.  

I breathe more steadily now arms recovering slightly and look down again, at one of the best pitches I have ever done. The corner bends its way underneath me. I now notice how outrageously it overhangs. Ice blobs splattered up the back of it. The exposure is utterly wild, as if it is more suiting to a multi pitch sport route not a Mixed/Ice climb. I look down at Guy belaying far beneath me, give him a grin and move of up the tear drop of ice that I am currently hanging on. Pull over the overhang, continue up more conventional ice gully to find a belay. All the while my Arms screaming at me like a new born baby

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Me just about to gain a well needed rest on the tear drop. ©GuySteven

 

I sit hanging on the belay as Guy seconds the last of the 3 hard pitches. Hanging there with a feeling that I only seem to get from pushing myself hard in the mountains. I shift my weight from one leg to the other visualising the last 5 hours. Guy appears over the edge of the gully, wakening me from my state of euphoria. We both woop, grin and laugh.

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Guy approaching the route at first light

 

Normal service resumes as we climb the last 300m of the original couloir. Top out, eat in the sun, take a selfie, abseil the route, walk back to our bivi spot, sit having dinner as the sun sets over the Aiguilles, bivi there that night. Pull on frozen boots the next morning and walk back up to the grad montets station for first lift back to Chamonix. All the time talking about how amazing the route was, what parts were the best, and how exposed it felt hanging on the tear drop of ice.

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The Dru from the Grand Montets lift station

 

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Guy doing a good job leading the first hard pitch

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Me on the second Pitch it felt about the same difficulty and the crux pitch, and I was getting hailed in spin drift just to make me feel at home. ©GuySteven

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Me on the crux pitch completely involved in funky moves ©GuySteven

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Guy on the Endless easy pitches of ice in the original couloir

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Enjoying the sunset back at our bivi spot, totally content and pleased how well we worked as a team, something that I find essential in winter