Mixing it up on the Aiguille du Midi

04 November, 2014
Dave Almond and Dave Garry on pitch two of Double Dave during the first ascent.
Dave Garry and Dave Almond have recently climbed what they believe to be two new mixed lines on the south-east face of the Aiguille du Midi above the Cunningham Couloir. Although short, they are similar in character to the routes across the couloir on the north-west face and are also ideal for a quick day-hit when you've only got a small weather window.

Almond and Garry were joined by Tom Coney for Club Tropicana (M6+) which takes a mixed line to the right of an attractive looking ice runnel - see topo below. You may wonder why they didn't climb this obvious feature but somebody had forgotten the ice screws.

The two Dave's returned for Double Dave (M7) starting a bit further down the gully below a striking icy corner (photo).

Dave Garry said: "They're good additions to the growing list of day-route options for folk looking for a quick route from the Midi cable car and should prove popular. Double Dave is probably slightly better quality and someone should go and straighten out Club Tropicana by following the steep ice runnel."

He added: "We couldn't find any documentation of the lines having been climbed before, so a few weeks ago we sent the details to the Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix to check but haven't heard anything back so assume they're new."

Over the last couple of years the mixed routes on the north-west face of the Aiguille du Midi above the Cunningham (Passerelle) Couloir, with easy access from the summit, have grown in popularity. In particular, Le Vent du Dragon (M5), has attracted attention since being included in Philippe Batoux's Mont Blanc: The Finest Routes. These routes can be reached, either by an exciting abseiling from the bridge between the summits or from the Cosmiques Arete, and are manageable in a day from the Midi cable car.

Red line shows Club Tropicana and the blue Double Dave.
Route Descriptions:

Club Tropicana M6+ (F.A. Dave Almond, Dave Garry, Tom Coney)

Rappel into Passerelle Couloir from the Midi bridge. One further rappel brings you to a niche with a chandelier of ice on the right hand side.

P1 (30m M6+) Move in to the niche and traverse with torques to the left under the chandelier. Move up and into the obvious groove until a slab is reached for a good belay.

P2 (40m M5) Move diagonally rightwards along shelf to a corner and straight up crack system and belay at the start of a leftward diagonal crack line leading to an icy corner.

P3 (50m M5) Climb icy corner and keep moving up to the top of the wall. Belay off steel sticking out of the wall below the viewing platform on the Piton Nord and rappel back into the gully and exit up and out via ice-cave.

Double Dave M7/VII,8 (F.A. Dave Garry, Dave Almond)

P1 (35m M7 - Scot VII/8) Rappel from the bridge plus a further one and half rappels to a vertical wall with a sentry box on the right and a banana shaped crack on the left. From the bottom of the sentry box traverse left on to the wall and gain crack lines going directly up to icy ledges. Belay next to two huge flakes.

P2 (50m V) Follow icy corner to chandelier and flake belay 10m further on.

Pitch 3 (60m M4) Follow the deep groove for 10m then trend right up to top of wall to belay on steel.

Rappel back down to couloir and climb it to exit via ice cave.

Club Tropicana (M6+), Aiguille du Midi.