Peuterey Integral

Friday, 16 August 2013 15:15
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Grade:     
-    TD/ED1.....quite long
-    + 4500m height gain
-    normally it takes approx. 2 to 3 days

This is the description for the “Intégrale de Peuterey”. It is the longest ridge in the Alps. With 4500 meters and a climbing time of about 2 to 3 days this adventure has aroused my interest.

After having studied closer the situation I wanted to give it a try. I thought of adding the ascent from the valley – which would make additionally 1000 meters of altitude – and then to descend straight back to the valley to Les Houches. A simple idea and just how I do like it: Easy and simple.

But the ridge itself is far from being easy. There is a lot of rock climbing, it is not easy to find the route and there are plenty of technical abseiling manoeuvres.

Facts and figures:

  • 1000 meters of altitude of approach
  • 4500 meters of altitude of climbing
  • 3800 meters of altitude of descent
  • Horizontal distance: No idea!

After having done some research a couple of climbs did catch my attention:

Matteo Pellin e Arnaud Clavel:
“28 ore complessive, questo il tempo (record) impiegato ai due per il tragitto: Santuario di Notre Dame de la Guerison in Val Veny, Cima del Bianco lungo l'Integrale di Peuterey, discesa a Courmayeur lungo la via del Rifugio Gonnella”.

Luka Lindic:
Young Slovenian Luka Lindic has climbed the ridge recently in 15 hours.

Jonathan Griffith and Jeff Mercier
The two alpinists climbed the route in 2012 also from the Borelli hut to the summit of Mont Blanc in 29 hours and 30 minutes.
Read more: http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/6340572-peuterey-integral-single-push


Inspired by their performances I thought about the project. As usual I take the matter very seriously and I took a look at the whole thing. I have never been on the south side of the Mont Blanc. Together with Caroline Georg I went on tour.

The route is not easy to find. But the climbing was possible also without rope. I was convinced that it was possible. Now I needed – as usual – good weather. My time was tight since it was already Monday, August 12, 2013. My wife and I would leave on Saturday, August 17, 2013 to Canada!

The “weather god” seemed to be on my side and the good weather did last. Motivated I drew to Chamonix and I installed myself on the campground of Les Bossons. Then I drew to Courmayeur in the Val Veny. For Tuesday, August 13, 2013 Matteo Pellin offered me to stay overnight at his campground. The same evening I was back at Peuterey on the campground.

I placed my backpack at the entry of Aiguille Noir south ridge. My material was reduced to the minimum. I did not need very much: 60 meters of 6mm Dyneema rope, harness to abseil, some hooks and loops, crampons, ice axe, climbing shoes. Further I took gloves, cap, sunglasses, a thin down jacket, hardshell trousers and jacket – you never know…Water I could fill up everywhere, to eat 5 powergels and 4 powerbars would be enough.
The night before I left I was once again spoilt on the campground. I relaxed and enjoyed the Italian hospitality.

At 4 am of August 14, 2013 am Matteo says goodbye with a good „caffè doppio“. I started to run. At 05.10 I was already at the entry where I left my backpack. The first 1000 meters of altitude were done. I was faster than I thought and it was still dark. Nevertheless I started climbing. I was at the same place I was one week before, also in the dark. I would find the way, I thought.

Slowly the day began and I enjoyed the climbing. After the descent from Pte. Welzenbach I allowed myself a short break and I changed my shoes. Now I continued with my climbing shoes. Without any great problems I reached Aiguille Noir de Peuterey at 8.30 am. From here I had to abseil quite far. But before I enjoyed the beautiful morning atmosphere.

In the night far in the south there were sheet lightning. Now the sky was completely cloudless. The air seemed to dry. But I guess that the bise would build some clouds during the day. We would see.

From here my abseiling began. Pitch after pitch. 16 times I had to abseil until I reached the foot of “Les Dames Anglais”. A cracked couloir brought me to a traverse to get into the couloir Schneider. From the couloir Schneider I climbed to the bivouac Casati. There was a lot of brittle rock, typical alpine ground.

It was nice to climb alone. In a roped party it is hardly possible to reasonably belay and you always have to pay attention not to knock off any stones.
I was totally alone and I could go my own pace: My rhythm, my day. It was great. For me these days are the most beautiful: The mountain and me.

Under Point Gugliermina I heared some voices. A roped party climbed over me. I made a wide arc on the two climbers, so that I did not trigger any rockfall, which could hit them. This is the second roped party I overtook. Everybody follows his own pace as it fits for him.

For the second time I filled my water bottle. The sun shone and the snow melt the ice and offered me plenty of water to drink. So I did not dehydrate.
I guess some clouds would build up. It was less warm and I found myself underneath a cloud layer.

At the Aiguille Blance de Peuteurey Pte SE I put on my crampons. Now I continued in the snow. The sharp ridge lead to the Pte Central, from where I had to abseil myself again. After three times of abseiling and some climbing I reached Col de Peuterey. Now I found myself thick in the fog and I could not see any two meters. Not easy, I had to find the passage to Grand Pillier d’Angle.

Three times I traversed back and forth until I decided just to try. I needed at least 30 minutes until I had the feeling to finally know where I had to continue. I didn’t have any choice: I had to try. I found the right way and I reached without any problems Grand Pillier d’Angle. Now I found myself over the clouds. The summit was not far away anymore. From here I found some old traces. I wish I had them down at Col de Peuterey…

Slowly I started to feel the tiredness. I was on my way quite a long time and quite fast. My gloves were wet – but up here, at 4000 meters they froze again. I decided to put on my replacement gloves only on the summit. So I would have dry gloves when I descend.

Just before 3 pm I reached the summit of Mont Blanc du Courmayeur. No wind and fully over the clouds. Increadible. It was a great moment. I enjoyed this moment and I was sure I would make it down to the valley.

I felt a bit tired but good, I enjoyed the late afternoon on Mont Blanc. It was 3.35 pm when I moved to Mont Blanc and then down to Dome de Gouter. A wide track run along the normal route.

While descending I started to run again. Far below me I saw the bottom of the valley: Chamonix. It was still far away, still approx. 3800 meters of altitude and over the Dome de Gouter there were still many horizontal km to do. I didn’t really care although I felt my thighs.

The valley comes closer. Below the hut of Tête Rousse I passed a signpost. I didn’t’ really want to know how long it still was. Fortunately the time was not written on it…
At Bellevue I crossed another signpost: 2 hours and 20 minutes until Les Houches. I reached the finish just after 8 pm.

16 hours and 09 minutes after I left Matteo on the campground in Val Veny I reached the church at Les Houches. I thought of eating something. But I decided to move on. I wanted first go to the campground in Les Bossons. I briefly considered calling someone to pick me up. But it was such a nice evening that I decide to comfortably walk to Les Bossons. A good hour later I sat next to my tent.

I enjoyed a good shower, a recovery drink before I made myself comfortable in my sleeping bag. With a smile on my lips I fall asleep.

What a great day I had!