Global warming reduces climb to scree slog
Did this route in 2007 with my teenage daughter (an experienced climber) from the Glacier Blanc hut. This was my fourth time in about twenty years climbing in the Ecrin Park. Each time there was less snow on the this approach.
Finally, this year the Glacier Jean Gauther was reduced to a couple of snow patches 100 m or so across tucked in against the headwall with the route zig zagging up steep, dry, dusty moraine all the way to the Col du Monetier (See pictures). The glacier had all but vanished and I doubt it will be there at all next year.
Once at the col the Glacier du Monetier was still there (thankfully) but needed a descent of about 30m down more loose stones to reach it. After a brief bit of snow plodding we reached the Col Tuckett.
Here, what was once the small, easy chimney on the left of the delicate slab, reached directly from the glacier and leading to the col, was now about 7m above us and composed pretty much of eroded, vertical, dried mud with rocks sticking out both sides and a tattered fixed rope hanging down.
Huge, inexperienced parties lead by shouting French guides were clattering down this chimney on two abseil ropes, dislodging every rock they could find. - Maybe they didn't know that the abseil goes down the slab, not the chimmney.
Two biggish rocks they dislodged managed to bounce over me and hit my daughter on the shoulder hard enough to pretty much bring the climb to an end.
I cannot recommend this climb any more. Once it was interesting and varied, with two glaciers, some rock work, an abseil decent and very good views.
Now, with global warming and glacier retreat it is just a long, hot, tedious scree slog. (or am I just getting too old and fussy for the mountains!?)
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