Highly active British alpinists Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey have climbed what is thought to be a new route on one of the three gendarmes on the East Face of Mt Maudit in the Mont Blanc Massif, naming it Zephyr (M5+, 6b, 400m). This climb comes just a few weeks after the pair made the first ascent of Mastabas M7 on the Pyramid du Tacul (UKC News Report).
Leaving on the morning of the 13th March from the Aiguille du Midi, they approached on ski up into Cirque Maudit. The line had been on Matt's mind for quite some time.
Waiting for the route to be in a particular condition, the climbers had held off an attempt until the lower buttress had enough snow to be mixed climbed and until the upper pillar was dry enough to be rock climbed. Another concern was the state of the rock on the upper pillar, knowing that this area can have varying rock conditions.
Matt told UKC: "The lower pillar was climbed up icy cracks and corners giving some great mixed climbing before crossing a snowfield and some unsettling snowed-up slabs to belay at the base of the upper pillar. The sun was still warming and the winds calm due to climbing on the lee side of the forecasted prevailing 65kph north winds, so gloves off rock climbing was possible."
He added: "Things soon changed... as the sun dipped in behind the East Face, the strong, cold north wind found its way round onto the face, making the remaining excellent rock climbing pitches brutally cold. After much gloves on, gloves off, gloves on, re heats and total body shakes we topped out on the pillar."
All research seems to point to this as a first ascent, and if true Matt and Jon have named the route 'Zephyr' M5+, 6b, 400m.
Watch a video of Matt and Jon climbing Zephyr below:
Visit Matt's website: www.matthelliker.com