/ Frendo Spur - only rated D+
Any ideas or feedback.
I hope your are enjoying yourself, I'm flying out there on Friday.
If you think the Frendo is hard, try the Ryan-Lochmatter on the East ridge of the Plan - still conventionally graded the same as the Frendo, but in reality in an entirely different league.
For your next route, try something like the Nant Blanc Face Direct of the Verte ('only' TD when compared to the Frendo's D+) and then see if you reckon the grade of each makes sense.
There are Ds and Ds in the Alps! For example the Nant Blanc face of the Aiguiolle Verte, rarely climbed and very serious. A guide book is useful to distinguish :-)
It's ny first season in the Alps though, so I'll happily take D, but TD- would be great thanks Al!;-)
2 weeks left, so who knows what we'll get on next!
The Frendo is very long and committing in that the easiest way off is to finish it but it isn't that hard technically and obviously has a very easy descent, so for me it doesn't quite make the TD grade. Not that I've got much to compare it to - the only TD route I've done is the Chamonix Aiguilles traverse, which is much longer, more committing and from memory has three pitches that are technically harder than anything on the Frendo, so in my book that qualifies as a proper TD route. Another example is the Drus traverse which is D+, haven't done it but to my mind that's a much bigger and scarier undertaking than the Frendo. Tour Ronde is a bit generous at D. On the whole though I think Alpine routes can be so varied that you have to look at a lot more than the given grade.
It is all very well saying "if you ask around a bit you will get the gen and find out what the real difficulty is, but that is like old-style UK guidebooks (yes, Swanage, I am looking at you!), where everyone knew certain routes were drastically undergraded but if you asked a few of the wise, they would drop you dark hints.
It kind of takes away the point of a grading system and guidebook, which is supposed to provide information, not conceal it. Alpine grading really needs a new grading system, but I doubt if it will get a generally agreed one.
For what it is worth, I think D+ is about right for the Frendo, but the TR North face is D- at most, while the Ryan Lochmatter on the Plan is easily TD-.
It would be difficult to do without creating something even heavier, there are so many variables. There may be a few that need regrading a touch but any guide book description will just add a line such as "D but serious for the grade" or mention of descent difficulties, variable conditions etc. Apart from anything else any new system could never take into account whether the climb is in condition or not, and even explaining what this means require a chunk of text.
There are many TD or TD+ rock routes which can be done by many after a 2 or 3 years rock climbing whereas some TD true alpine routes can be well out of the reach of even experienced alpinists at the top of their ability. It just can't be conveyed accurately in a few figures and letters.
I'm not agreeing. It works well enough for me and plenty of others.
I thought the grade was about right, despite being benighted due to a snowstorm. It just felt 'long' due to lack of acclimatisation on the two week annual holiday.
Getting back to the campsite so quickly, after topping out, is a rare novelty!
No doubt why Damilano departed from the traditional grades in Snow, Ice and Mixed above AD+ (or is it D). A double grade of seriousness and technical difficulty is useful. But even if there's only a single grade, the route description will often mention the technical difficulty for crux passages. If it doesn't, we can only assume an average level of difficulty for the grade. Anyway, the difficulty of the crux often isn't the most important thing. Whereas the length and commitment involved should be obvious from the route description and the topo. Clearly in choosing an Alpine route people should look at a lot more than just the grade, it's not like Stanage! Grades are still useful though as a TD will generally be harder than a D, particularly for similar types of routes. Besides, where would grade debates like this one be without grades? I don't suppose I'm saying anything you don't already know, just trying to bring it all together.
Alpine grading really needs a new grading system, but I doubt if it will get a generally agreed one.
I agree current grades are not always that illuminating but I doubt that for the "classic" alpinism grades of say F-D+ any new system would be much better. All that could really ever be said is that in vaguely average conditions for vaguely typical climbers the sum of all the various relevant factors mean this route will be more or less challenging than that route. The current system pretty much does this.
Is the crux still that jammed block in the chimney that you have to move up the outside of? Feels about British 5a?
I'm planning on going out next month and hitting it the same as you, go to the Plan on the last lift, climb through the night and get lift down in morning.
Beta is always good....
Fast forward 30 odd years and I find myself on the route again at the age of 57 and not so fit. We stayed in the Plan hut, ascended in the day and caught the last tele cabin down. This time I found the route relatively straightforward and much more enjoyable.
I actually found it a little underwhelming, the climbing is easy and route did not actually feel that long.
Due to the warm temperatures we bivied at the Plan station, leaving at around 4:15am. We moved together, climbing in boots up the first half of the rock section including the Rateau de Chevre crux, before swapping into rock shoes at the short col before the more sustained climbing. Once at the top of this it was back into boots and crampons and we moved together all the way to the top, arriving at 11:15am. 7 Hours in total.
I think D is a fair grade. None of the climbing is technically difficult save for the two short cruxes and I thought the route finding was fairly obvious. It is extremely accessible, and fairly escapable with short approaches and descents and little objective danger.
With regard to the comparisons to the North Face of the Tour Ronde. Yes the route is much shorter, but as many have pointed out you have the descent to take into account as well. I would suggest AD+/D-.
I would say 7 hours is a good time by the way.
With regard to the Rognon, I have actually been thinking that to finish direct would be much more aesthetic. I'd be quite keen to try it the next time I do the route, what standard would you say the climbing is?
I climbed with MJF and agree with all his comments.
7 hours from the bivi. With current temparatures I would recommed hitting the arete early.
I've soloed the Frendo (with the rognon finish), and I've climbed the Walker. The Walker is a much harder proposition all around; in length, sustained difficulties; and in overall seriousness. Which is exactly what the grades indicate.
However the Frendo is as long a route as most, it just has an easy approach and descent.
I would tend to argue that the cruxes on the Frendo were understated, or certainly by those who I spoke to before climbing it. I'm not sure whether the grade warrants adjusting, although I do think the Alpine grade system requires further depth, perhaps the addition of a tech grade.
Well that's as clear as mud then :-)
As I claim above: for me, and plenty of others over many years, the existing grading system (along with the detailed route descriptions found in the guides) has worked very well.
For anybody with a different opinion: please give details of traditional routes you've done in which a more complex system would have given a better overall picture.
> As I claim above: for me, and plenty of others over many years, the existing grading system (along with the detailed route descriptions found in the guides) has worked very well.
> For anybody with a different opinion: please give details of traditional routes you've done in which a more complex system would have given a better overall picture.
Not sure how you possibly grade this for the descent & do it justice in any form. Pure death, followed by more possible death literally. AD = Whatever.
But if you've read the guide book you would know this. You can't expect a grading system to do all your work for you in complex mountain situations... It's not like grading a gritstone edge, and that's what makes it so much more interesting.
Had diligently read the guidebook before experiencing the descent, but its pure awfulness & looseness still took my breath away, itís of a level difficult to anticipate before encountering first hand!
Think I'll ab the north ridge next time!!
Isn't that the descent that Desmaison or someone similar mentions in his biography? It's true that descents are rarely fully described - the descent from the Petit Dru being an exception... part of the fun :-)
I haven't done that route (either up or down), but the existing guidebook grade and description (*) gives an idea of what it might be like.
My question was/is: are you suggesting a *better* way to grade it? If so, what? Thanks.
(* AC 1990 guide: 'PD+ ... It is a long scramble of little technical difficulty over broken ground, but the complexities of route-finding are not be underestimated.'
More recent guides/info add that the route has deteriorated due to rockfall.
For me, that all gives a picture of what I might find.)
> My question was/is: are you suggesting a *better* way to grade it? If so, what? Thanks.
Its upgradeable on any scale presently used in the Alps that I'm aware of.
On the British scale maybe E10 diff would be somewhere near.
....2 adjective grades? Don't you mean E10 4a or something?
Now now, that's why we've got the HXS grade...
I think you might have cracked the Alpine grading conundrum.
Grade routes 1 to 100 in relation to where they would fit in the book.
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