Gervasutti pillar - TD 6B
This route is a big tick and classic alpine climbing route of Chamonix. As we had the weather window and were well acclimatised it was an excellent opportunity to go for it!
From reading blogs and guidebooks we new the route was going to be long. The description is also quite misleading in places for route finding so we decided to get to the base of the route the night before and recce the first pitch which was meant to be challenging due to the receding of the glaciers.
It also gave us a head start because we left a rope hanging above the first pitch ready for us to ascend in the morning.
Here I opted for starting the pitch in crampons; getting some gear in and then changing into climbing shoes. Stepping off the snow is kind of tricky in climbing shoes but if I was to do it again Id probably do that.
I abseiled off the first pitch just as dark came in. We then ventured back down to where we had left the bivouac gear to cook some food and get our heads down.
We got up in the morning leaving our gear in the same location. This meant we could climb with limited amount of gear however needed to walk all the way around back to the base of the climb afterwards before we could head for the lift station. We had packed and left additional rations at the bivouac site for this scenario.
In hindsight I would recommend either leaving bivouac gear closer to the midi lift station on the glacier to save going out of the way to come back and get it. Otherwise you could climb with the gear and bivouac on or at the top of the route. This also gives you the option of sleeping if it gets too late.
The first section of the route is relatively straightforward apart from some route finding todo. Once the line starts getting steeper it turns into mixed ground. This is after some quite unbelievable pitches of climbing around 5a-6a (what a shame you don't have time to enjoy them)
It also has some interesting aid pitches too which at least give you a good idea you're on the right line. I found the mixed lines quite loose even though a fair amount of snow was still in place. It also slowed our pace considerably! We accessed this ground from a steep aid move but a team above us had come in from higher up by doing another pitch on the main wall.
The line took us a long long time. We ended up climbing through the night and summited in the early hours. I was very surprised at the amount of mixed ground left to cover after the main descriptions in the book. Obviously we were slowed down by the dark once it had fully set in. The team above us had summited and set a tent up near the top of the route.
We then had to trek back to collect the kit and make our way back to the midi lift station for some ice cream!
If you are planning to do this route I would suggest moving quickly!