One of the most impressive ascents of the last week has to be Slovenian climbers Luka Krajnc and Luka Lindič's onsight, single-push ascent of Divine Providence on the Grand Pilier d'Angle, Mont Blanc.
A huge and remote climb with rock difficulties up to 7c/7b+ ish, the young Slovenians (aged 25 and 24 respectively) climbed the entire route without a fall in one push from the Fourche Bivouac to the Vallot Bivouac in 32 hours.
Here's what Luka Krajnc told us:
"On Wednesday we went to the Torino hut via cable car and walked 2.5 hours to the Fourche bivouac. We spent the night there and on Thursday at around 1am we started walking towards the wall. The approach went faster that we planned so it was still dark when we were under the wall. We started climbing at dark and we started on the wrong dihedral but joined the route a few pitches higher. Because there was a lot of snow this year in Cham, the starting pitches offered sometimes delicate mixed climbing that slowed us down instead of relatively easy rock. After reaching the main section of the route things went smoothly and we climbed all the pitches onsight/flash exchanging leads.
The last physically difficult pitch (the 7a roof) was wet, but luckily not icy and we exited the rock part of the wall at around 10pm when it got dark. The following pitches took a lot of time because we were not properly acclimatized and the conditions were not the best, but we continued climbing through the night towards the ridge. Around 3am we stopped for 30 minutes to melt some snow and than continued towards the Peuterey Ridge over which we reached, in wind and fog, the top of Mont Blanc just before 9am. We descended to the Vallot bivouac on the French side where we rested for an hour and then walked the 4 hours towards the valley."
Divine Providence is one of the most famous routes in the Mont Blanc range, and holds its reputation as being one of the most difficult overall climbs, due to its altitude, length, difficulty and remoteness.
The climbers, both from Celje, Slovenia, are accomplished rock climbers and alpinists. Lindič has climbed up to 8b+ sport routes, 8a+ alpine routes, M13 drytooling routes and has added an extremely difficult new route to Bhagirathi II in India. Krajnc's CV is no less impressive. The young Slovenian has climbed 8c sport routes, 8c alpine routes, M13 drytool routes, as well as hard routes on his local Triglav.
Squeezing in some British ascents in to this report, it looks like Jon Griffith is all set for his imminent Charakusa Expedition (good luck Jon and Will). Jon recently made a fast single-push ascent of the very long Peuterey Integral. The route, which is over 4500m long, summits Mont Blanc after an awful lot of climbing.
Jon, climbing with French local Jeff Mercier, climbed the route in 29 hours and 30mins, sustaining a rock on the head, causing him concussion. More disturbingly for Jon, he forgot to take his camera!
Jon described the route:
"The Peuterey Integral is one immense route. As far as routes go in the massif it's one of the very few that has a remote and expedition like feel to it- not only for its size (some 4500m height gain) but also due to how committed it feels after the Noire de Peuterey. We were going fast until the rock hit but I guess that's part of the game, after that point it definitely felt like one of the hardest things I've done out here. It's not often you get to crank out so much height gain in one day after all!"
Whilst we are on Brits and the Peuterey Integral, it's worth a quick mention of Ally Swinton and Ben Tibbets - they also climbed the route a few days before Jon in a great effort of 42 hours.
British climber Hazel Findlay has been making initial forays in to the alpine climbing world. Already a world class trad climber and big wall climber, the young philosopher is now intent on increasing her alpine skill set with her eye on some larger objectives. As a training run, and dragging an aging climbing journalist behind her, Hazel made a small but committing first ascent on the Aiguille de Saussure, on the side of Mont Blanc du Tacul.
The Findlay-Geldard route tackles the front face of the Aiguille, with rock climbing up to E5, and exits up the classic ice couloir of the Afanasieff-Bodin Gully.
Luka Krajnc is sponsored by Patagonia, Black Diamond, Iglu Sport
Jon Griffith is sponsored by Mountain Hardwear
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