On the 20th December Chamonix-based British alpinists and mountain guides Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey climbed what is thought (according to local knowledge) to be a new mixed route/variation on the NW face of the Tour Ronde in the Mont Blanc Massif.
The pair of chancers approached on skis from the Helbronner lift station that morning, with a strong NW wind, early morning low cloud and cold temperatures. The feature they where aiming for was a striking splitter corner system filled with a very thin seam of ice.
3 long pitches of mixed ground landed them at the base of the corner. After a "re-warming session" in the biting cold wind, Helliker set off up the main feature, climbing a fantastic long 55m pitch at around M6, climbing delicate ice together with a few questionable hooks to pull through the final bulge to a good stance.
Another pitch of steady ground above brought the climbers to a col and a "logical finish" on the ridge where they abseiled into the Rebuffat Gully to descend. The two Alpinists found the line to be excellent and well worthy of future repeats and wished to bring attention to the route whether new or not.
They called the route Chancer and graded it M6, 250m. It may or may not be a new route - as the Chamonix Massif is such a popular area - but either way it is a great looking and relatively easily accessible line that looks set to be popular this season.
Well done fellas!