Big Action in the Alps
2/24/11 - News link: During a prolonged spell of high pressure in the Alps, many significant ascents were completed on the range's greatest faces. Here, a round-up of the news.
On February 9, the Swiss-Italian duo of Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl broke the speed record for a pair climbing the north face of the Eiger, completing the massive face in 4 hours 25 minutes via the 1938 route. The previous record of 5 hours 3 minutes was set last fall by Ueli Steck and Bruno Schläppi; Steck still holds the solo speed record, with a time of 2 hours 47 minutes.
Meanwhile, on the south side of Mont Blanc, the French rope team of Aymeric Clouet, Jérôme Para, and Pierre Labbre completed an extremely rare and extremely fast ascent of the Super Intégrale, a demanding version of the classic Peuterey Integral, which gains nearly 15,000 feet in traversing two major peaks and ultimately the summit of Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest summit. The Super Intégrale, pioneered solo by Renato Casarotto over 15 days in the winter of 1982, follows much harder routes than the normal line, and has likely only been repeated once, in 10 days, in 2003.
Starting on February 7 in Italy, the three Frenchmen raced across the traverse in six days, including a new mixed route up the south face of Mont Blanc in a gully near the Central Pillar of Freney. Read more here.
French climbers Patrick Pessi, Sébastien Ratel, and Rémy Sfilio completed a significant new route on the north face of Les Droites, above the Argentiére Glacier. Their 1,000-meter route, Ecaille épique (M6 90° A1), took four days round-trip. Click here for a full account and photos.
During the same great weather window, Fabio Valseschini from Lecco, Italy, spent eight days doing the first winter solo of Cinque de Valmadrera (1,350m, VI+ A3) on the northwest face of Civetta, one of the largest walls in the Dolomites. Read more here.
Finally, in the far eastern Alps, the Slovenian alpinists Andrej Grmovsek and Luka Krajnc have climbed a major new route on the north face of Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. Their route, Sanjski Joža (1,050m, VI/V M7+), took three days to climb. See photos and an interview with Grmovsek here.
Dates of ascents: February 2011
Sources: See links above.