26 year-old British alpinist Tom Ballard has soloed the Colton-MacIntyre route on the North-Face of the Grandes-Jorasses in 3 hours and 20 minutes. Tom now has just two ascents to complete in order to achieve his goal of climbing all six North Faces of the Alps in one winter season - otherwise known as his 'Starlight and Storm' project.
After spending a night in the Leschaux hut, Tom skied up the glacier and started climbing at 9:45am, reaching the summit by 1:05pm - in 3 hours and 20 minutes, despite never having climbed a route on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses before, let alone the Colton-Macintyre.
With recent solos of the Matterhorn, Pizzo Badile and Cima Grande di Lavaredo, only the Eiger and Petit Dru remain. The project is inspired by Gaston Rebuffat, the first person to climb all six North Faces of the Alps and described in the book 'Starlight and Storm'. In summer 1993, Tom's mother Alison Hargreaves - one of the most talented female alpinists of all time, who sadly lost her life in 1995 whilst descending from the summit of K2 - became the first person to climb all six, solo and in a single season.
Tom told us: "For me, climbing the Macintyre-Colton route on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses was a great experience. Albeit a brief experience, 3 hours and 20 minutes to be exact! I went up there with an open mind, I had a few different ideas about which route to climb. It all depended on the conditions. I had never been up there so I had plenty of options! "
He added: "As I was skinning up the Leschaux glacier, the whole time the line of the Mac-Col was jumping out at me. It seemed the obvious choice! And of course it's one more piece of this winter's puzzle."
The route was established in August 1976 by the 22-year-old British alpinists Nick Colton and Alex Macintyre.
Visit Tom's Athlete Facebook Page.
Tom is sponsored by: Dolomitland, GMSport, Scarpa and Virna Pierobon Projects