Simon Richardson and Micha Rinn have established a new line on the right of the Miage face on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, which they've named Perfect Storm (700m, ED1, 6a+). According to mountaineering historian Luca Signorelli, this is the first new route on the face since 1989.
The route follows the pillar between the ice lines of Himalamiage (750m, ED1) and Fanta Couloir (700m, TD) on the North-West side of Pointe Louis Amédée (4460m). 'These pillars are the mirror image of the better-known Brouillard pillars on the other side of the Brouillard Ridge,' Simon explained.
After climbing the line, the pair continued up the Brouillard Ridge and descended the 'Royal Traverse' over the Aiguille de Bionnassay and Domes de Miage resulting in an eight-day outing. Simon told UKC:
'As the route name suggests, we were caught by a ferocious storm at the point when we were most committed!'
The Miage Face falls 2300m from the summit to the Miage Glacier below. It is often referred to as the forgotten side of Mont Blanc and described as Himalayan in scale. Simon and Micha decided to make a journey of it. Simon commented:
'Our objective was to not only climb a new route on the face, but also partially reproduce a Greater Ranges-type experience by extending the adventure and not descend directly from the summit. Although we used bivouac huts wherever possible (purists would have taken a tent), we knew from the outset that the length of the undertaking meant that we would encounter bad weather somewhere along the way.'
The events unfolded as follows:
10 Aug Climb up to Quintino Sella Bivouac Hut from Val Veni.
11 Aug Climb up to Mont Blanc Glacier and recce route.
12 Aug Climb 650m of Perfect Storm. Bivouac at c4400m.
13 Aug Complete Perfect Storm to Pointe Louis Amédée (4460m). Continue along Brouillard Ridge to summit of Mont Blanc and descend to Vallot Bivouac Hut. Bad weather arrives at 8am (12 hours earlier than forecast). Climb Brouillard Ridge in severe storm. Conditions extreme on the summit of Mont Blanc. Descend to Vallot Hut in trackless whiteout and dangerous avalanche conditions as night falls.
14 Aug Rest day in Vallot Bivouac Hut. Storm relents a little in the morning then restarts in the afternoon.
15 Aug Storm force winds all night and early morning. Leave Vallot Hut at 8am. Traverse Aiguille de Bionnassy to Durier Hut.
16 Aug Good weather at last! Traverse Domes de Miage and descend to Tre la Tete Hotel (mountain refuge).
17 Aug Walk down to Les Contamines and hitch/bus back through tunnel to collect car in Val Veni.
Simon summed up the adventure as follows:
'All in all it was a deep and rewarding experience, and for me, the fulfilment of a 25-year old dream. The weather on Mont Blanc was the worst either of us had ever experienced in the Alps.'