Voilà enfin le site mis à jour avec des galeries telle que je voulais le faire depuis quelques temps. Je vous souhaite une bonne visite et de vous laisser emporter par la poésie de la lumière !
Des liens en français sont indiqués dans chaque gros titres ( 3 au total) où une description détaillées des itineraires et de notre parcours est écrite. Les photos sont internationales !
7 days of mountaineering, 3 summits, 3 x 600m of climb, 6200 D+/-, good week with friends, good beer, snaps and most of the time good food ! : perfect holyday trip !
With Caf Aubagne, we went for 3 days in mercacantour national park ( southern France).
At this time of the year, the snow started this year at 2000m a.s. l. but this winter has poor snow conditions… We still managed to get ourselves really nice trip with amazing group, snow and view!
We spent our nights in refuge de la cantoniere that I warmly recommand as the tenant is really cool, the food is really good and the accomodation comfortable !
Day 1 : Tete de la Sanguinette with CAF Aubagne !
Day 2 : Tête des Garrets
Day 3 : Tete de la cote de l’ane
We climbed the route together with Audrey on a sunny fall day (end of october) and as we departed a bit too late and took our time we enjoyed the sunset by the coast ! That was good for the pictures !
It is easy to find your way towards the route as you cross a huge arch (arche de Castelviel).
Then you follow the cliff to the left and a small single track leads you to a 20m rappel. The first pitch is really easy. Then you follow a more serious pitch. the following 6 a traverse is really nice with a small crux at the beginning and an airy traverse secured by eclectic gear which need to be some renewed…
A small climb down leads you to the 2 nd rappel that you can avoid to the left (small 5c and rusty belay…). The pendulum is not practical over the the edge of the cliff. Then comes the crux of the route : an exposed 5b that you can protect on good cams except one of them by the crux (still correct) . The rocks are near the surface and really don’t want to test a fall on these cutting rocks. Both climbers needs to climb safe enough to be sure not to fall. The next pitch has a nice 5c which is less tricky than previous one.
Then you come over a more athletic 6a which is well protected on pitons and you arrive to the 3rd rappel which is also a pendulum of 20m. Don’t forget to clip the rope if you don’t want to be stuck away from the rock and over the sea !
The next 5c is athletic and protected by 2 spits in total but it is easy to add good protection yourself on the final part !
you finish the climb by an easy but funny pitch.
I warmly advice climbers to go there. But be careful about the equipment as it is quite old and you really need to know how to climb on gear !
Thanks to Audrey for this great adventure !
Day 1 : Mestia 1400m-Banguriani basecamp 3000m
After 6 days of non stop mountaineering and trekking in georgian Caucasus, Florian and I offered ourself a rest day in Mestia, visited the small town and didn’t carry any bagpacks !!! what a joy ! Our 4 swiss ran up and down 2000m higher in about 5 hours …
The weather forecast announced uncertain weather for the rest of the week except for tuesday. Our project over Ushba just slipped away from our mind because of weather and snow conditions ( heavy snow fall in high altitude). Therefore we had to find a new project. As we discussed with some locals we heard about banguriani summit which was supposed to be an easy one. On monday morning, we checked from the city and saw a ridge seen on
pictures from the days before. it looked interesting enough even if it was snow covered contrary to the past weeks.
After packing we starting from the town our trip to the basecamp and found a way through the forest and over a nice ridge. After 1600m hike u we arriveed at the foot of a glacier moraine and found a source as we supposed it from the map observation. I was actually quite tired after this long day following this dense week ! the sky was clear and we hoped for good weather !
Day 2 : 3000 m – 3837 m : complete traverse of banguriani from west to east !
As forecasted , we got lucky and armed with 2 ice axes, rock cams/nuts, piton and ice screws, we began our day at about 3 am with the aim to get to the summit and be sure to tackle with any difficulty we could encounter. We actually had NO IDEA about the possible path to follow ! After 30 minutes, we reached the pass, beginning our ridge and had some small climb up and down ( 3/4 in mixt conditions). We enjoyed the view over Ushba and Elbruz at sunrise ! The temperature was quite cold but not freezing cold and the rocks we climbed on were not too loose but not really good either. The snow covered ridge made an interesting atmosphere and the ascent was more comfortable than being on rock only but obviously more alpine !
Some part part of the ridge was a bit exposed climb (up and down) which was not easy because of the snow covering the rock. and the final wall was interesting in this massif face.
When we finally topped out and got for the time this day the sun, our body got warm again ! and when we arrived at one summit we thought to be the top, we noticed a small silhouette on the skyline … ! But who can it be ? no one was around yesterday… !
But yes it shall be … Pascal Egli !! Our team mate that started on the same day from the valley joining the summit from the easiest route (east side). He had to wait in the cold that we join his summit but when we met each other, the feelings were just over natural. Of course we knew he could come up here as we informed him of our plans. But nothing was sure and we didn’t glimpse any head lamp in the morning… We hugged warmly and our eyes were filled by thousands of stars !! We were so lucky to be all together at the top of our second summit on the only second good weather day !! And we got a good news as we were sure that the complete traverse was possible and easier than going back the same way we went up which would have been tricky.
We levelled this ridge (PD+/AD : fairly hard) more because it is long and some committing if you traverse the whole summit. the final ridge is really exposed and sharp on both sides with an amazing view. The wintery condition can also after the grade we propose as usually this summit is not snow covered.
Day 3 : Base camp to valley
When we arrived at our bascamp at around 1 pm, we were really exhausted and offered us a nap which turned to be 3 hours long under the sun hitting our tent ! We then decided to go down on next day unless the weather forecast was crap. Indeed when we woke up in the morning, snow and wind greeted us and we were forced to wait for better weather until noon. We rested, read and filmed some footages. When we felt some sun we jumped out from the tent and went down fast among the last snow falls. We tried a different way down and found our way through the forest without trail. After our arrival in Mestia we decided to began the next day a classic touristic tour over Georgia in order to recover our energy… We were really happy that we managed to reach this summit through this long ridge without knowing anything about the mountain. This was a really exploratory ascent from our sight. It is possible that some Russians already walked on this ridge but we don’t know anything about it.
Second excursion of our trip in Georgia ( Caucasus massiv)
Day 1 : 1400m – 1600m ( evening)
On the 18th September as we just went down from Tetnuldi (day 4). We made a short break in Mestia, ate some water melon and dried some clothes. As the girl had to leave Georgia 3 days later it was their last chance to summit somewhere. Despite the really crap weather which was announced the 4 swiss decided to make a try to Laila ( an easy summit nearby). Florian and I decided to spare energy for the rest of the trip and given the very low chance to get enough good weather, we just joined with them to share time all-together and spend time in the mountain. Therefore our mountaineering equipment was released in the valley. We called again our driver of the morning and after 1 hour drive we we at the end of the road. we walked about 200m up and found a nice camping place in curve of the allroad track ( in the forest). Again rain surprised us as we began to mount our tents…!
Day 2 : first bivouac 1600m – Layla pass 3000m -2750m Layla bivouac :
After a good night we began the hike up under partly sunny sky ! Amazing to hike along with the sun for some minutes ! We walked gently in this really autumnal landscape with the beautiful colour of the trees and the some rainy clouds playing with the sun giving such an interesting light ambiance. The mood was good with a lot of laugh and we were amazed by those hunter house with typical wooden architecture.The arrival at the Layla pass wall terrible as we got snow with wind and thunder which after a good day of hiking pushed us to run up even quicker… With my altimeter, I observed a big air depression just behind the pass which is a well known meteorological effect due to wind. On the other side of the valley, we dried some and recovered the warmth. The landscape gave us so much reward and energy that we took loads pictures, timelapse and films ( Florian will mount in a few month the whole film of our trip). We found a perfect bivouac place with water 5 minutes away and with an amazing view. the sky got clear at the beginning of the nigth allowing nigth shoots.
Small trailer clip filmed by Florian and timelapse from me. a longer version will be mounted later by Florian ( Meal time, the Layla pass (3000m)) and our camp).
Day 3 – bivouak/2800m , Laila pass/3000m , summit/3200m, valley 1400m :
At 4 o’clock our indestructible swiss team took off from their tents with the firm wish to join layla through a route which they observed the day before ( different and more direct compared to the normal route). But as the weather forecast said, they hiked under heavy rainfall which changed later into snowfall ( at about 2900/3000m). After 2/3 hours of struggle in horrible conditions, they turned around and definitly gave up. We ( the photographers and filmmakers) heard them from our warmy downsleeping bag ! We are getting older… They rested for some hours and as the rain stopped we hiked up the Layla pass and from there, the team targeted a small 3200 m summit from which the foggy view made an impressive view and ambiance. I was not keen on going there as I was cold at this moment and continued down the mountain. On the way I encountered georgian hunter with their horses. We tried to communicate but without any common language, the discussion go fast… But still it is really interesting to share some moments and food in the hut as the rains started again. After the break the loud rain outside called us and we made the last hour down hill under one of the stongest rain you can get to know. Completely soak, we arrived at the Zkhumari village and the hunter we met drove us towards Mestia with house music as warm up !! We spent the night at Dodo guest house which will be our main host in Mestia ( more to come in a later post).
Mid september , with five other friends from France ( Florian) and Switzerland ( Giulia, Roman, Pascal and Fränzi), we all met late in the night in Tbilissi ( Georgia). This country is a really small country stuck between Russia and Turkey and between two seas : the black sea to the west and the Caspian sea to the east. Early in the morning ( only 3/4 hours sleep later we jumped in a small minibus which drove us until Mestia, one of the main mountaineering village of this country. This village receives different valleys surrounded by a couples of 5000 and loads of 4000 summits.
Day 1 ( Adishi – Base camp 1 )
The day after, an offroad car grabbed us with our 25/30 kg bagpacks filled up by 7 days of food, tents, sleepings bags and all the mountaineering gear. On the 15th of october we started from the village of Adishi (2120 meters) with the aim to gain the summit of Tetnuldi 2 days later and depending of what we will see attempt an other summit in the other neighbooring valley ( it will appears that the access of those extra summit were too tough for the gear we brought and we only made Tetnuldi). After 2 hours we were at the altitude of about 2900m and began the building of the tents under the rain ( as it will be quite usual on this trip !). The night was foggy but the general mood really good !
Day 2 ( base camp 1 , 2800m – Base camp 2 , 3700m) :
We woke up with a nice warm weather and the usual good mood you have when starting up a new adventure ! The sun gave us a couple of hours rests which will be broken at the pass. On this pass we left part of our gear and food expecting to use them on our way back to attemps an other summit. The deposit was done at around 3200m. We met a group of russians who spent 6 days up in the mountain and their last night trying to slep at 4300 m a.s.l. in an emmergency snowcave on the ridge of Tetnuldi. The way up was in good condition but the rain and snow began to disturb us and when we arrived at 3700 m on the biwak , we settled our tent in the snow storm. The rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping and recovering forces before the next day which shall be sunny according to weather forecast.
Day 3 : Tetnudi summit ( base camp 2 , 3700m – Base camp 2 , 4750m) :
We slept well but the early alarm clock remained tough at 2.30 am. -4°C in the tent during the clear sky night, -15 °C outside. Luckily we charged our battery earlier the day before.
The wind is cold and the meal is quickly sent. Rope teams are formed ( Giulia, Florian and Pascal/ Fränzi, Roman and me). We quickly stepped on the glacier and went quite fast at the foot of a 40/45 degrees ice slope. luckily this was snow covered. Our machines ( Pascal and Roman) sent the 2/3 pitches faster than the ligth and the breath was obviouly influenced by altitude but still really good. A second steep wall ( 35/40) was passed easily during the long traverse. at sun rise, we made a food and drink gathering (4100m) enjoying the view over Ushba and Elbrus. This was so magnifiscent !! However the cold made us quickly start again !
The ridge was reached and after a small ice pitch (40/45°) we were hit by the sun !! so good to feel the warmth of it !
From around 4500m I actually felt strongly the altitude through my heart pumping like mad and almost hurting me if I walked too fast… Florian also felt it but some before… at around 11 am we reached the altitude of 4750m, our hiking rate was slow and even if the summit was really near ( The main difficulties were already passed and summit at 4850m). The steep snow slope falling down into the valley was heaten by the sun and we feared to get bad conditions on our way back (sliding melt snow). Even if some of the group could have run up in a minute, we all agreed not to split the rope team and began our descent. This was like an evidence and I think it was wise as this was our first summit all together. Indeed it is mountain ! Moreover the most interesting part of the climb was completed and security comes always first. The path is far more important than the goal itself and summits are there for a long time ! Anyway the landscape was awesome on the way back and the ascent was indeed demanding if you consider the level it is supposed to be ( PD+). Our bad (inexistent) acclimation at those altitude was for sure the main reason of our small faillure… Our legs felt good but the breathing and the heart didn’t follow.
After climbing down and rappeling on Abalakov, we reached the camp in the middle of the afternoon and went quite quickly into bed.
Day 4 : the descent to the valley :
The clouds came with our dreams and 10 hours later we woke up in snowstorm… but we had to leave… so after less than an hour we reached our deposit place and took again our food and extra gear. On the way back we reached our driver by cellphone and the appointment was set for an hour later. Georgians are such connected people !
This is the first post among a serie about georgia.
Once again in valgaudemar valley ( hautes alpes). Perharps the valley that sounds the most like himalaya with such steep slopes on both side and still some (small but impressive) glaciers
With Vincent , we spent the night in the « refuge de l’olan ». really nice atmosphere upthere, magnificent view and a hut watcher that makes the evening unforgetable !
Waking up at 4am …! We head up the route « oiseau de passage » ( TD/6a/350m) at the summit of Olan with another ropeteam which will appears to be a great one making the ascent so cool thanks to their good mood !
The rest in pictures (in reverse chronology…)!