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Europe, France, Aiguille des Pélerins, North Face

Aiguille des Pèlerins, North Face. On April 21 and 22, Briton Andy Parkin and I climbed a new route on the north face of the Aiguille des Pèlerins (3318 meters, 10,887 feet). We climbed directly to the Col des Pèlerins and began about halfway between the Rébuffat route and Michel Piola’s “Nostrodamus.” We finally climbed it on the third attempt. The first was in November, 1989, when we ran out of daylight and were surprised at how difficult it was. The second was on April 11, 1992, when basically the same thing happened although we were two pitches higher. We finally accepted the idea that we would have to bivouac. We climbed 14 hours on the first day and slept at the top of the 8th pitch on one of the two “good” ledges that the route offers. We climbed on a 60-meter rope since the 5th and 6th pitches required at least 55 meters to reach reasonable belays. We climbed 12 hours on the second day. The first six belays are fixed and we left only one piton on the rest of the route. Technical data: 500 meters; fourteen 60-meter pitches: 90° ice, 5.9, A3. Pitch 1: 65° ice with one short vertical passage; Pitch 2:60° ice; Pitch 3:45° snow, then 70° ice; Pitch 4:90° ice, 5.9, A2; Pitch 5: 90° ice, 5.9, A2 (harder than Pitch 4); Pitch 6: A2, 70° ice, 5.8 (a long, dangerous, loose pitch); Pitch 7: 60°-70° ice, 5.6; Pitch 8: 70° ice, then 5.7; Pitch 9: 80° ice, 5.9 (difficult protection); Pitch 10: 75°-85° ice (this pitch joins Rébuffat route for 20 meters); Pitch 11 : A3 (loose; a 25-meter pitch); Pitch 12: A2, 5.9, 60° ice; Pitch 13: A.2, 5.7, 60° ice; Pitch 14: 45°-65° ice. 5.5 (big, loose blocks; very dangerous for both leader and belayer). This route is more difficult than the one we did on Les Droites, though half as long.

Marc Francis Twight