Chamonix resident guides, Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey, have just made the first ascent of the Supercouloir de Peuterey Integral on the Mont Blanc range.
Like a lightening bolt arching through the dead of night sky, a pristine streak of white carves its way down the E-NE face of the Mont Noire de Peuterey. Driving towards the Mont Blanc tunnel from Courmayeur one cannot escape the lure of the majestic Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey. What is this line of pure beauty?
After a bit of digging we still couldn’t find any clues… In these situations, the past has taught us to not ask too many questions for fear of arousing suspicion amongst the locals. History tells us that even our most trusted allies could turn out to be informants!
Sneaking in under the radars we left Val Veny shortly before 0600hrs. Poor intelligence almost jeopardized the mission when an unplanned river crossing led to soaking wet feet and some time-consuming bushwhacking. Luckily we struck upon Bouquetin tracks, which led us onto the lateral moraine ridge, giving quick and direct access to the face.
The line is hidden during the approach and there was much relief when we finally gained the base to see the most stupendous 300m of searing near vertical snow ice reaching up towards the sky. Thankfully ice axes sank into the ‘styrofoam’ with ease, as protection was sparse to say the least. We climbed past two old hand placed bolts, which had us wondering about their origin.
Above, easier angled terrain funneled us up towards the steep rocky towers guarding access to ridge. There were lots of possible route choice options, but none of them looked too appealing. Matt, having served his winter climbing apprenticeship in Scotland, opted for an open groove full of tussocks of turf and moss. These provided solid ice axe placements, but no protection. With the steep rock bastion breached, a snowy couloir led up to the ridgeline and the warmth of the afternoon sunshine. With no time to spare, I led a hasty abseil descent back down the line.
Supercouloir de Peuterey, E-NE face of Mont Noire de Peueterey
First 350m, H. Marguerettaz (✝) and G. Sappa 23/3/1983
Integral to ridge, 650m J. Bracey and M. Helliker 16/12/2013
Grade: TD, ice and mixed to 90 degrees
Jon Bracey is sponsored by: Adidas Eyewear, Black Diamond, Osprey, Patagonia and Scarpa
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