Approaching the Col du Plan Couloir

One of our ‘week trip’ goals prior to arriving in Chamonix was to attempt a winter ascent of the Frendo Spur. Duncan has quite a few friends living in the area and after hearing thoughts about the upper half being out of condition we opted to stay clear of the route this time. In exchange for this we wanted to do a long day route on the North side of the Midi so opted for Le fil a plomb (TD), a route which is quite regularly in condition and although long and committing only has 3 or 4 pitches of steep climbing up long icy ramps. Our organization took an early blow as we managed to miss the first lift up the mountain due to hundreds of skiers out to enjoy the settled weekend weather. So with added pressure of a cold night in the Midi station toilets we burst out of the blocks and made it to the Bershgrund in under an hour leaving a couple of teams in our wake. Looking up the route we counted 15 people amounting to allot of ice debris being  funneled down the route and an ever looming night out without bivi gear. With this in mind after about 100 meters we stepped out right and onto the Col Du Plan Couloir (TD). We decided to simulclimb most of the route which in the end turned into soloing with a rope on to be honest – the one decent step going at about Scottish IV,5 probably. The overall memory from this route was the continuous battle with waist deep powder over slabby granite which in the end became a full body workout with minimal actual climbing involved. Both Duncan and I were pretty spent by the time we made the arête leading back to the Midi station but perseverance and the promise of a cold night in the toilets made us rip along the ridge just in time to get the last lift back to Chamonix! This marked the end of a great trip for us, which although didn’t involve the multi day epic we sought after before arriving in France but did involve four great routes in a week of settled spring weather – without even needing one ski or snowshoe!

Duncan seconding the crux pitch

The final Midi Arete