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Home » Climbing Notes » GRAND CAPUCIN, VOIE PETIT


Alex Huber on the Voie Petit (8b/5.13c, 450m), which he redpointed in a single push on July 17. The route is a contender for the hardest high altitude free climb in Europe. [Photo] Heinz Zak

At 3838 meters, the Grand Capucin is not one of the highest summits of
the Mont Blanc massif. Nevertheless it has been an attractive target for
climbers ever since Walter Bonatti made the first ascent of its east
face in the 1950s. In 1997 Arnaud Petit and Stefanie Bodet opened a new
route on the 400-meter face. On the easier pitches they used natural
protection, while on the hard pitches they equipped the climb with
pitons and bolts. On the crux pitch–an almost forty-meter-long,
ninety-degree corner with a four-meter roof at the end–Petit managed to
free all the moves, but he couldn’t link them without rests. Since then
nobody had succeeded in redpointing the route.

In spring 2003 I met Arnaud in Yosemite. As we talked about free
climbing on El Capitan, Arnaud suggested that his Grand Capucin route
was a perfect objective for hard, multipitch free climbing. And he said
he would be happy if someday it went free.

I didn’t have the necessary energy to start the project that next
summer, but I finally showed up this June. The weather was quite a
nightmare this season, yet I was lucky, and I managed to finish the
project in three trips. On July 17 I redpointed the Voie Petit (V 5.13c,
450m), free climbing all the pitches in a day from the start to the
summit in a continuous ascent. The 450-meter route has some sixteen
pitches; the hardest pitch goes at 8b. But even with the crux behind
you, near the summit another delicate but beautiful 8a pitch awaits,
with the best sort of granite. The route may be the hardest at this
altitude in Europe.

Alex Huber, Berchtesgaden, Germany