Up, Up, and Away

So pretty much ever since I got stuck (and subsequently hauled up) a multi pitch route when I was around 18, I have had this almost certain conclusion that I don’t like multi pitch. At all. Never in a million years. My brother has been trying to get me multi pitching for years, but it was my climbing buddy in Cham who finally broke me.

So we headed off to Gaillands. I lead a super easy route to a great, flat belay spot and my buddy followed. He set off on the second pitch, and as I followed him up I noticed the noise of the crag slowly started to fade. The views, even from just a little bit higher up, were just that little bit better, and I felt an amazing sense of finally overcoming a fear.

So a few days later, we headed to Servoz. A great crag half way out of the valley that has some nice single pitch, but even better multi pitch.

I set off a nice long 4c as I was still trying to fight the urge to run away from committing…. And the route above that my buddy would lead looked too good to pass up.

So when I reached the top of his 5c chimney and looked all the way down back to our bags (a staggering 40m, (which is small in Chamonix)) I decided that this bridge had taken way to long to cross, and we needed to find something epic.

(Entrance stage left)

Spitomaniak 5c**

The main reason I had wanted to do this route was because of the name (as well as La Tartiflette 5c*, I may have suggested we had to eat Tartiflette and the top of the route)

It’s slab-tastic all the way up which considering we both hate slabs, we always end up on them….. But anyway, I digress.

The day was hot and as it was our first multi pitch we both packed way too much gear and subsequently hauled both our racks all the way up the 10 pitch route. Well done! (hey, it’s weight training isn’t it?)

The views across the valley to the Mont Blanc Massif are breath-taking.  The parapenters gently circle above, and the speed flyers zoom past (and what a speed they go at!)

So, we set off. Luckily, some clouds came through as it was a super hot day! Even at 2000m. Climbing is great wherever you are, but the great thing about multi pitch routes is you really get a good flow going. The higher you get, the smoother the moves become.

Standing at the bottom, knowing there were 10 pitches ahead certainly brought out the fear. The commitment of the route brought out the thought of “what if”, even though I knew the grades were well within my capability.

What if; the belay stations were awkward, the weather closed in, I fell.  All the unknowns circled in my head, just like the parapents above me. These thoughts were completely irrational, and I knew it. However, as I started up the first pitch and reached my partner at the belay point, all the fear evaporated.

We moved up the route with ease, the weather held and the views were phenomenal. No one else was above us, and no one else was behind us. It felt like we had the whole side of the valley to ourselves.

Reaching the top, belaying my partner up to the finish was like a rite of passage. The feeling of elation started to creep in and I believe I had found my love for multi pitch.

I had done it.

Multi pitch had been ticked off the list…… Now what?

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