20 years after establishing his classic Voie Petit 8b on the Grand Capucin in the Mont Blanc Massif, Arnaud Petit has returned with Swiss climber Nina Caprez to the peak's south face, where they have established a new 12-pitch line with grades up to 8a. The pair spent four days on the wall during the successful attempt and named the route L'or du temps.
The line begins up the classic Bonatti route for two and a half pitches, before breaking through new terrain. Arnaud described the climbing as follows on Instagram:
'It's quite a straight line and very steep, most pitches are overhanging. There is still a little cleaning to do to make it a classic. When aid climbing, our choice to add bolts in two places doesn't mean it's a scary climb, even if it's a bit spicy sometimes. The cracks protect well and we used 27 bolts (two compact pitches took most of them alongside the belays). As for the grades, it's sustained in the 7a-8a range.'
'I feel blessed to have found this line - surprised to be as psyched as 20 years ago when I started another dream here, grateful to be fit enough despite my old bones and that Nina trusted me and was curious enough to have a look. Reality was even better than expected and we were a brilliant team, peaceful, hard-workers and lucky to make good decisions over the 4 days we spent on this superb mountain.'
Some bolts were added by the pair after the route had been climbed in order to make the climbing less dangerous. This was Nina's first multi-pitch first ascent. Commenting on Instagram, she wrote:
'What an outstanding adventure! We spent 3 days on the Grand Capucin opening a new route. Damn hard, steep and so many 5 star cracks.'
In a blog for Arc'teryx, Nina explained:
'On the last day, we opened the line on our way down, which is very different from opening ground-up. The fear factor isn't so high, but here, the pitches were harder overall and so we were more occupied by checking whether this new line was possible or not. I was very impressed by how steep and straight our line is. It has the character of a steep sport crack line…but in fact, we opened a 12-pitch long route with grades up to 8a, at 3,600 meters, in the middle of the Mont Blanc massif! The name of the route 'l'or du temps' (footnote: For English speakers, this means the gold of time, but sounds like outside of time) means a lot to us and perfectly captures the disconnect with reality that you will experience up there on the Grand Capucin.'
Summing up his passion for new-routeing, Arnaud told UKC:
'It's a privilege to be able to open new routes; it's not about being the first ascensionist, but having the chance to follow your intuition and experiencing moments of doubt and great joy when finding solutions. There is a childish aspect that I've only experienced while new-routeing.'
In 1997, Arnaud opened the famous Voie Petit 8b alongside his partner Stéphanie Bodet. The line was first freed in 2005 by German climber Alex Huber. Arnaud works as a mountain guide and continues to establish hard new lines at his local crag, Céüse in France's Hautes-Alpes department.
L'or du temps, Grand Capucin
6a, 6a, 7a, 6c, 8a, 7b, 6b+, 7c+, 6c+, 7a+, 6c+, 6a+
Arnaud is sponsored by: La Sportiva, Patagonia and Petzl