An accidental abseil lead to scary new lines:
On Friday the 8th of Jan Nick Bullock, partnered by Kenton Cool attempted to find the existing route Home Wet Home, which is located between the Mini Couloir and Nuit Blanche on the Argentiere glacier, near Chamonix.
The pair abseiled in to what they thought was Home Wet Home but found they were in the wrong place. (Un?)luckily they were faced with an aesthetic line of micro ice.
Bullock drew the short straw and led the 70m line, which he has estimated to be about Scottish grade VIII,8 and, if it hasn't been climbed before, he has offered a name of Homeward Bound.
Bullock, who is based in North Wales for half of the year, was frustrated by reports of superb conditions back in the UK and was desperate to get some climbing done.
"All of that ice on the right is wafer thin, taking nowt in the way of gear, there are no footholds, and the ice really was millimetres, but at times it has to be used to pull up on, and for the feet... all very insecure."
Two days later Bullock was back, this time partnered by Pete Benson. The pair climbed a two pitch route just to the left of Homeward Bound which they have now named Homage to the Homeland.
The first pitch of insecure technical 6, with sparse protection, was led by Benson. The upper pitch, which turned out to be the crux, was led by Bullock. The route is 70m and the crux pitch was estimated to be Scottish VII,8.
"It would be around M6+ but has no fixed gear, no bolts."
After their ascents the team checked the relevant guidebook and found no reference to the routes and neither route had any fixed gear or signs of traffic. "There's no reason to ab down there unless you went wrong like we did." commented Bullock, which leads them to believe that they are most probably first ascents, however as with most lines, they may well have been climbed before.
- You can view a topo of the routes on Pete Benson's Flickr Page
Kenton Cool runs Dream Guides
Pete Benson is supported by Adidas