British climbers Calum Muskett and Miles Perkin have made a rare ascent of the classic alpine route Divine Providence on the Grand Pilier d'Angle, Mont Blanc, France.
This epic route, which was for many years considered one of the hardest in the Mont Blanc Range, combines F7c standard (traditionally protected) rock climbing with a long mixed alpine ridge, and tops out on the summit of Mont Blanc itself (4,810m).
Miles Perkin looking up at the crux rock wall on Divine Providence, Grand Pilier d'Angle
UKC News, Aug 2012
© Calum Muskett
This sought-after route sees few ascents, and even fewer free ascents, as the crux 7c pitch is often very wet, which was the case for Calum and Miles. The pair onsighted every pitch except the wet crux, and they climbed the route with one bivy in the middle of the large rock wall.
Calum Muskett finishing off the final section of hard rock climbing, still with a lot of ground to cover.
UKC News, Aug 2012
© Miles Perkin
Calum has written up their ascent on the Rab Blog:
"... we had ten days in the Alps in which to try the route, eight if you exclude flying there and back. We arrived to bad weather but a promising forecast of five days of sun which left us feeling optimistic. We spent the first couple of days acclimatizing on the Grand Capucin and South face of the Aiguille du Midi before spending a morning re-packing in the valley and heading back up the cable car to walk in to The Grand Pilier. We took our time walking across to the Fourche bivouac hut on Frontier Ridge knowing full well that we hadn't spent long acclimatizing and we would need energy in reserve the following day. From the hut we decided to abseil down that evening to the glacier below and cross it to the next col where a series of abseils down jenga like rock bring you to a reasonable bivi spot in full view of Divine Providence.
We set off at first light the following morning crossing swiftly beneath the Brenva Seracs over the detritus of multiple avalanches to the base of the route. The first 400m or so go fairly quickly with climbing up to about E1. From here the difficulty steps up a few notches and we soon reached the first hard pitch which Miles dispatched easily. The next pitch had a wet crux section but the climbing was reasonable enough to allow passage to the crux pitch. When we looked at the next pitch it was clear that our free and on-sight ambitions were over as the first half of the pitch was running with water. It was going to be my pitch but Miles volunteered to lead as he'd done more aid climbing than I. I attempted to free the pitch on second but quickly the combination of difficult climbing and icy cold water shut me down leaving me with a painful dose of hot aches. One more pitch landed us at a disappointingly snow covered bivi ledge which took a while to clear and provided us with a cold and sleepless night. The sun hits the wall at first light in the morning and after spending a while thawing we got back into the rhythm of climbing quite slowly, spending a while to work out which line to take. The final hurdle was the roof pitch graded at 7a+ at around 4000m. Miles looked solid leading up to the roof and dispatched the pitch easily with a woop once he reached the belay. I seconded and was happy to find the pitch quite amenable.
With all the hard climbing behind us we thought we'd motor to the top but the mixed climbing leading to the Peutrey ridge took us longer than expected and we finally reached the ridge late in the day. We un-roped and slogged our way up towards the summit of Mont Blanc for sunset. The long walk back to the midi left us feeling exhausted, myself in particular but we were both chuffed to have climbed such a brilliant and legendary route that we had both dreamed of doing for so long...."
Read his full report here: RAB BLOG
Hand drawn Topo for the route: