Helliker & Bracey Climb FA of Supercouloir de Peuterey 'Integral'

Team Psyche!  © Jon Bracey
Team Psyche!
© Jon Bracey

Chamonix resident guides, Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey, have just made the first ascent of the Supercouloir de Peuterey Integral on the Mont Blanc range.

Like a lightening bolt arching through the dead of night sky, a pristine streak of white carves its way down the E-NE face of the Mont Noire de Peuterey. Driving towards the Mont Blanc tunnel from Courmayeur one cannot escape the lure of the majestic Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey. What is this line of pure beauty?

After a bit of digging we still couldn’t find any clues… In these situations, the past has taught us to not ask too many questions for fear of arousing suspicion amongst the locals. History tells us that even our most trusted allies could turn out to be informants!

Sneaking in under the radars we left Val Veny shortly before 0600hrs. Poor intelligence almost jeopardized the mission when an unplanned river crossing led to soaking wet feet and some time-consuming bushwhacking. Luckily we struck upon Bouquetin tracks, which led us onto the lateral moraine ridge, giving quick and direct access to the face.

The line is hidden during the approach and there was much relief when we finally gained the base to see the most stupendous 300m of searing near vertical snow ice reaching up towards the sky. Thankfully ice axes sank into the ‘styrofoam’ with ease, as protection was sparse to say the least. We climbed past two old hand placed bolts, which had us wondering about their origin.

Matt Helliker on the lower section of the couloir  © Jon Bracey
Matt Helliker on the lower section of the couloir
© Jon Bracey
Matt Helliker questing through the steep rock section  © Jon Bracey
Matt Helliker questing through the steep rock section
© Jon Bracey

Above, easier angled terrain funneled us up towards the steep rocky towers guarding access to ridge. There were lots of possible route choice options, but none of them looked too appealing. Matt, having served his winter climbing apprenticeship in Scotland, opted for an open groove full of tussocks of turf and moss. These provided solid ice axe placements, but no protection. With the steep rock bastion breached, a snowy couloir led up to the ridgeline and the warmth of the afternoon sunshine. With no time to spare, I led a hasty abseil descent back down the line.

The line of the Supercouloir de Peuterey  © Jon Bracey
The line of the Supercouloir de Peuterey
© Jon Bracey

Supercouloir de Peuterey, E-NE face of Mont Noire de Peueterey

First 350m, H. Marguerettaz (✝) and G. Sappa 23/3/1983

Integral to ridge, 650m J. Bracey and M. Helliker 16/12/2013

Grade: TD, ice and mixed to 90 degrees

Jon Bracey is sponsored by: Adidas Eyewear, Black Diamond, Osprey, Patagonia and Scarpa

Matt Helliker is sponsored by: Adidas Eyewear, Black Diamond, Edelweiss, Maximuscle, Osprey, Patagonia and Scarpa


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Jon Bracey
Chamonix

Jon Bracey is one of Britain’s foremost alpinists having climbed many hard mixed routes in the Alps and established several new routes in Alaska, Greenland and the Himalayas. Along with his passion for expedition...

Jon's Athlete Page 17 posts

Matt’s life has been shaped by mountains and coastlines, from the sea cliffs of Great Britain to Scotland's winter mountains, the European Alps to the Greater Ranges of the Himalayas, South America and Alaska....

Matt's Athlete Page 16 posts



31 Dec, 2013
Nice one. However isn't this part of the range in Italy? (Yes I know it used to be in France)
1 Jan, 2014
We came across 2 bolts. There has been some parties there. Nice effort. Please don't claim the FA.
1 Jan, 2014
Supercouloir de Peuterey, E-NE face of Mont Noire de Peueterey First 350m, H. Marguerettaz (✝) and G. Sappa 23/3/1983 Integral to ridge, 650m J. Bracey and M. Helliker 16/12/2013Grade: TD, ice and mixed to 90 degrees Please read the article before criticising.
1 Jan, 2014
Thought I better try and clear up a couple of points. Firstly I wrote the story but not the introductory paragraph. It should be 'Italian' climbers NOT french as a lakeland climber pointed out! Get it corrected UKC! Matt and I have claimed the first 'integral' ascent and have never said anything different. H. Marguerettaz and G. Sappa climbed the first ~300m in 1983 and named the climb 'Supercouloir de Peuterey'. I do not know what different guidebook editors thought about the original ascent was as it did not exactly end at an obvious point. Despite quite a bit of digging I never found any reports about it or reference to it in any guidebooks. If anyone has any other questions then please add to the thread and I'll try and get them answered. Most importantly its a brilliant route so get yourselves up there for some fun climbing.
1 Jan, 2014
Looks like a fantastic route Jon, well done, do you think yours is the second overall ascent as well as the first complete to the ridge? How did you descend, it looks from the pictures as if it hits the ridge just before the start of the Aiguille Noire?
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