Chamonix June 2016

posted in: Adventures Abroad | 1

On the one hand, having the flight there and back delayed, sleeping on airport floors, changing numerous buses, bad weather and not ideal conditions. On the other hand, good climbing between and sometimes during bad weather, making new friends, catching up with old friends and the most important, having fun, were some of the highlights that conclude my latest trip to Chamonix in June.

I have never been to Chamonix during that time of year so that seemed like a great option. After checking out flights I found a good deal for Milan Malpensa which seemed a good choice for traveling to Chamonix. So I booked the flights, packed my stuff and I was ready to go on a climbing trip before my busy working summer.

Travelling to Chamonix from Cyprus through Milan looked straight forward on paper. However, with two hours delayed flight and the domino effect kicking in it can get really long and boring. After a messy flight, a night spent on the airport floor, a couple of buses and a total of 23 hours travelling, I finally arrived in Chamonix and set up my home (my reliable tent) for the next few days.

First day in Chamonix with blue bird sky and good vibes I met with Dalit (Israel) and Paul (Sweden) for an evening sport climbing session in Les Gaillards. Surprisingly enough I have never had the chance to climb there despite the fact that it is only a short walking distance from the center. We did not have a guidebook with us so we had to choose the climbs by just how good they look (I always enjoy it when that happens). After we climbed three fairly easy routes I found myself battling my way up a short route on steep, slippery Gneiss that I later found out was a solid 7a. That was my great first day with promising weather (as it turned out later it was one of those rare days).

The next couple of days passed with heavy rainfall and down time. During that time a memorial festival took place in Chamonix for Tancrède Melet a member of Flying Frenchies who was killed in a balloon accident.

For the next climbing day I met with Dalit at the Le Brevent lift and the plan was to climb something on Brevent south face. However, when we met in the morning it was already raining and the rock face looked wet so we had to abandon our original idea. The new plan was to hitchhike over to the Switzerland borders and climb Cacao Girls on Barberine. After a bit of waiting we managed to get a ride and with a short approach through the forest we reached the base of our climb, geared up and started climbing on the friction granite slabs. Cacao Girls is a 400m TD route following continuous leftward slanting spur on good, compact rock. For the first two parts of the route I and Dalit alternatively lead the pitches that sometimes were on wet and slippery rock. By the time we reached the final part of the route it started raining and the crack on pitch 9 was completely wet so we decided that it was going to be faster if I lead the next pitches. Climbing the wet crack was delicate and fun and the next pitch was the crux pitch with a powerful physical section which I found slightly harder than the guidebook grade. Two pitches later we reached the top and with two long abseils we reached the path and descended the gully all the way down. Catching a ride back to Chamonix was fast and that concluded our fun day climbing in Barberine.

The weather forecast for the next few days looked really bad and I couldn’t imagine myself stuck in the campsite without doing anything. I was wondering what I can do during rainy weather in Chamonix. Probably dry-tooling, running or overhang sport rock climbing I thought. The next few days I ended up doing everything on my list; dry-tooling with Ele (Italy), Tim (UK) and Richard (UK) at The Zoo in Sallanches, sport climbing with Ele andDaniel (Romania) in La Fayet and running the famous Chamonix Vertical Kilometer twice.

During the rainy days I also had the chance to climb in alpine boots on the Aiguilles Rouges and it was my favorite out of the rainy weather activities. I have done some alpine boots climbing as training in the past but never on wet rock during foul weather. You can find a short story of Chris (Washington), Paul (Sweden) and I climbing the Parroux Route on the Aiguille de L’Index here.


After I checked once again the weather it seemed like it was a two day weather window. So Chris, Dalit and I met at Aiguille du Midi café in order to plan something and get the most out of the weather. The initial plan was to take a bus to Italy in the evening and from there the Pointe Helbronner lift from where we could walk at the base of Tour Ronde and bivvy for the night and climb it the next day. However, because of the infrequent connection between Chamonix and Courmayeur, there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to make it for the last cabin so we decided that the plan wasn’t worth the risk and we made a different one. Our plan, for the next couple of days was to take a lift up to Aiguille du Midi, cross the Valley Blanche and climb the East Ridge on Pyramid du Tacul, then continue across the glacier to the base of the Tour Ronde where we would rest for the night. For the next day the plan was to wake up early, climb the Tour Ronde either from the North Face route or the Rebuffat Couloir and then walk back on the glacier and back to Aiguille du Midi lift station.  To find out more about our story and how we end up doing a 4-hour walk across the Valley Blanch in a rainy whiteout instead of climbing Tour Ronde visit Chris’ blog for the full report.


Chris, Simon (UK) and I met again over a beer to discuss of a possible day out. The report looked good for the next couple of days but Chris had some family commitments so we had to plan for a single day climb. So we decided to link up Profit-Perroux into the Voie Rebuffat, and finishing with a traverse of the Cosmique Arrete. The plan was a bit ambitious considering that the party hadn’t climbed together before. However, after some abseils, 5 pitches of mixed terrain, 5 pitches of moderate rock and a traverse of a variation of Cosmique Arrete we managed to catch the lift down and we did not sleep in the toilets that night. The day was amazing and exactly how I like it: fun, fast and light.You can find a report about our fun day and a nice article about Climbing fast as a party of 3 on Chris’ Blog.


Getting to the airport this time was easier thanks to Ele who drove me all the way to Vercelli, Italy. However, the flight was delayed once again but that time over five hours.

All in all, my trip was fun and enjoyable and instead of ticked off some climbs from my wish list; it got even bigger. I am looking forward for my next trip in Chamonix.



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