So this route is one that we have aimed our entire summer towards.
It’s one of the easiest route on Brevent. But with two 6a pitches, I was slightly more apprehensive than Olly (surprise, surprise). I hadn’t climbed since we did Pointe Percee, except a few hours bouldering down in Les Bossons, but with the weather turning and the closing date for the lifts drawing closer we realised this may be the last feasible day to go for it.
I woke on Friday morning with a mild hangover from a party the night before (which was short lived for me being in bed by nine!) and sipping the first coffee of the day, I looked outside to a glorious, but chilly, morning.
We’d agreed the previous day I’d bring the draws, and he’d bring the rope and as I re packed my bag I was feeling a little nervous.
We parked the car, and headed up the lift to Brevent, very grateful for the down jacket I had put on, as there was certainly a nip in the air being up at 2500m at 10am in the first week of September.
We made our way down the wonderfully short walk in to the bottom of the route and quickly realised that everyone else had the same idea as us due to conditions. There were 3 groups on the first few pitches but we set about gearing up.
The route doesn’t look quite as bad on closer inspection and excitement started taking over as we chatted to a French lady belaying her husband.
As usual on that side of the valley, the views are amazing. Conditions were perfect, and looking over to Mont Blanc, we hoped the clients booked through us were making their way up to the summit (they did – queue mildly hungover breakfast this morning).
Olly set off up the first pitch (5c/6a) and I followed, getting sandbagged by the hardest move and as disco legs set in I had a stern word with myself and managed to somehow get to the belay point.
Waiting again for the duo in front of us to start the next pitch, I led a nice section (4b into 5b) without too much emotional trauma, up to a small uncomfortable belay ledge, and Olly followed.
Olly led the other hardest pitch, as I know he is stronger than me, and I started up the route. The first half of which was a slabby run up to the crack.
I’ve never really done much crack climbing, and even though I know the technique I am supposed to use, putting them into action somewhat failed me. I have the grazes to back this up….
Don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing section of a fantastic route. But when I was half way up the crack, my arms were running on empty. Finding a few finger/hand jams was a saving grace when you’re smearing up something vertical. Pumped and exhausted I crawled my way up the pitch, with words of encouragement from Olly above me before heaving myself up to the belay point.
After a short traverse, we were at the bottom of the final pitch (5b/c) and this was the section I was most looking forward to. It’s the nicest pitch on the route apparently, well within my capabilities and after we belted out an impromptu “Bohemian Rhapsody” I felt relatively calm, and not too scared as I set off up the route.
It was a great section. Positive holds. Good placements for feet and a fantastic flow of movements.
However, as I got further and further up (nearly half way) I became increasingly aware that if I got too high, I wouldn’t be able to back out. I didn’t really get scared, more just unsure. A small doubt in the back of my mind that grew. I could see where the holds were, where would be best for my feet and where the bolts were but feeling pumped and just not that keen to keep going, alas, I came down.
Olly finished the route and I was happy enough in my decision as I topped out into the sunshine, having ticked off the last of the summers must-do routes.
We headed down for our obligatory after climbing beer and basked in the sunshine, and in our achievement.
I decided at the top, I would come back next summer for this route. Stronger and fitter, and be happier in my climbing.