Continuing the barrage of ascents in Chamonix this year, Vincent Henry-Amar and Nicolas Lochu climbed this new route, Freedom (V WI6+ M8 6b A1, 8 pitches), between Le Pic Sans Nom and Le Col du Dru, Mont Blanc Massif, France. The line, established on April 10, involves steep mixed climbing through a narrow gully.
Even after a busy winter season around Chamonix (read Nick Bullock’s April 6 NewsWire), new lines continue to be discovered and climbed in the Mont Blanc Massif. Vincent Henry-Amar and Nicolas Lochu added a new mixed offering between Le Pic Sans Nom and Le Col du Dru after climbing a variation to the Ravanel-Frendo on Aiguille Verte (4122m) with Bruno Roche.
The pair’s new mixed line between Le Pic Sans Nom and Le Col du Dru, 150 meters left of the North Couloir of the Dru, was established on April 10. Freedom (V WI6+ M8 6b A1, 8 pitches) climbs through a committing narrow gully with an early crux; the 60-meter first pitch required M8 moves and was followed by a 55-meter pitch of WI6+. The pair found easier ice and mixed climbing above, then mostly pure rock above Pitch 5. After fifteen hours of work they descended to the Charpoua glacier.
A week before, along with Bruno Roche, Henry-Amar and Lochu started up the Ravanel-Frendo Route (90 degree mixed climbing). A 6b+ dihedral preceded an M6+ gully for the first two pitches; above, instead of continuing through the Ravanel-Frendo chutes to the left, they veered slightly right, an exit pioneered by Michel “Tchouky” Fauquet. The team made the ascent in about ten hours and descended the same way they had climbed, leaving two pitons for each belay.
The accessible alpine environment around Mont Blanc coupled with the advancement and popularity of mixed climbing has opened a number of modern routes in the last few years. Earlier this year on Aiguille Verte, Gerald Durand and Philippe Batoux established a new mixed route (III WI5+ M7, 500m), which crosses the Ravanel-Frendo. Henry-Amar and Lochu noted that the region still houses a number of fine, virgin climbs and variations.
Leading Pitch 5 of Freedom (V WI6+ M8 6b A1, 8 pitches). The route transitions from mixed ground to rock above this pitch.