British Mountain Guides Matt Helliker and Stuart Macdonald have added a new 6-pitch, 250m line to the North West shoulder of the Tour Ronde in the Mont Blanc Massif, named Rotatornator and graded Scottish VII (M6/M6+).
Having struggled to find consolidated snow due to the dry autumn and winter conditions for many weeks, Matt eventually settled for a potential new route on the Tour Ronde. Writing in his blog, he explained:
'Route choice for a climb later in the week was limited, but I had one cool line in mind, a line that to me stood out on the NW shoulder of the Tour Ronde and as far as I was aware, was unclimbed.'
Meticulously researching Chamonix route files, Matt could find no evidence of an ascent of the line, and hence it became their objective. Optimum conditions on 7th December gave the pair a window of opportunity, despite the short daylight hours. With a slight breeze but under a blue sky, they skied, then skinned back up into the Cirque Maudit before setting off up the line:
'Perfect weather gave way to some perfect mixed climbing, cracks, corners, and caves with just enough snow to hold together some loose ground, and with just enough ice to let us creep up smooth slabs, but with the rock lending itself to solid hooks and great protection.'
Reaching pitch 6 in the dark, a moonlit summit greeted the pair before they rappelled down and skied the Toula glacier to return for pizza and beer. Commenting on the quality of the line, Matt wrote:
'I have to say that the climbing to the top of pitch 5 was really excellent, pitch 6...."not so fun" but it was dark! I think if anyone's keen for a repeat either call it good at the top of pitch 5 and rap, or rather than go up and right where we went, go up and left, this could be a nicer finish!! Maybe.... Oh and take a number 4 cam, 2 x number 1, 2 x number 0.75. This will keep it fun.'
According to Matt and his research of local history, only one other route on the face is recorded as having been climbed, a rock route by Jean-Marc Boivin and Patrick Decorps in 1980.