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The east face of the Grandes Jorasses (4208m), Mont Blanc massif, France/Italy. The lower section of the face, commonly referred to as the Y-Couloir and relatively dry in this photograph, finishes on the prominent snow terraces at around half height. Above is a steep smooth wall with left-trending features. The new Dumarest-Gabarrou route(climbs the conspicuous dihedral in shadow on the left side of the face. It lies between an obvious pillar to the left, the East Face Pillar (ED2/3: 6b A2, 750m, Cavagnetto-Rosso, 1988), and a rather more ill-defined pillar to the right taken by the Original Gervasutti Route (ED2: 6b A1, 750m, Gagliardone- Gervasutti, 1942). [Photo] Antonio Giani

Not publicized over the summer was the first ascent of the last remaining logical feature on the impressive East Face of the Grandes Jorasses (4208m), hidden away on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Over July 15-16 Christophe Dumarest and Patrick Gabarrou (who else?) climbed the big dihedral on the left side of the face between the East Face Pillar (ED2/3: VI 5.10d A2, 750m, Cavagnetto-Rosso, 1988) and the Original Gervasutti Route (ED2: 5.10d A1, 750m, Gagliardone-Gervasutti, 1942). The line is reported to have been unsuccessfully attempted in the past by the two sorely missed French alpinists, Patrick Berhault and Jean-Christophe Lafaille.

Dumarest and Gabarrou started from the Gervasutti Hut and climbed directly to the base of the dihedral in about half a dozen pitches of mid 5.10. Twelve pitches up the left side of the diedre at sustained 5.10d to 5.11b, with two pitches of A1/A2, led to a junction with the Gervasutti. After a bivouac, they reached the summit via the last section of this route and the upper Tronchey Ridge.

This is one of the most remote parts of the Mont Blanc range, providing serious outings where few venture. It contrasts strongly with the highly frequented French side of Mont Blanc itself, where in September, Jean-Marc Peillex, Mayor of Saint Gervais, the town situated at the foot of the Voie Normale on 4807.5-meter Mont Blanc, proposed that access to this overpopulated mountain be regulated. Each year more than 25,000 people attempt this, the highest summit in Europe west of the Caucasus, and the mayor predicts a continued rise in numbers as the market inevitably widens. Basing his argument on environmental concerns and the number of inexperienced climbers frequenting the peak, Peillex suggests limiting access only to mountaineers who have pre-booked and are accompanied by guides.

Don’t take this proposal lightly: in 2004 Scientists from the Laboratoire de Glaciologie de Geophysique et l’Environnement proved conclusively that the summit of Mont Blanc lay within Saint Gervais territory. The Mayor immediately declared that the name Saint Gervais-Mont Blanc would now see common usage, giving him a possible governance over the mountain.