Bhagirathi III, South Face, Les Temps Sauvages, and Other Activity. The expedition members had various goals. Alain Bruzy (leader), Christian Ravier, Frederic Salles, and Alain Miquel wanted to climb the Scottish Route, but altitude problems and dissension in the group prohibited them from doing so. Jerome Thinidres and Stephane Benoist wanted to put up a new route on the west face between the Slovenian and the Scottish routes. Instead, they climbed the Scottish Route from May 16 to 20, finding difficult mixed climbing.
Arnaud Guillaume and I wanted to climb the Spanish (Catalan) Route. On May 7, we were ready to start, but a big snow storm that lasted until the 11th deposited one meter of snow at Base Camp. When good weather returned on the 12th, we realized we didn’t have enough time to climb the route. Furthermore, part of our gear had been lost when the Advanced Base Camp was destroyed by avalanches. We decided to have a look at the south face, which we thought would be drier, sunnier and quicker to climb.
We started climbing on May 15 at 1 a.m. up a 800-meter couloir (40°) before reaching a ridge that we followed for five pitches (V/V+). We installed our first bivy at 5400 meters. On the second day, we climbed a very nice, steep dihedral with beautiful wide cracks for five more pitches (V+/6a). The second bivouac was set up at 5260 meters.
The central pillar we climbed on day three was the nicest part of the route: long slabs with thin cracks protected by nuts and cams. We had to aid a few meters. The third bivouac was at 5900 meters. It snowed all night and we had to wait until noon before leaving. We then joined the Czech Route for five more pitches of wonderful granite, which led us to the summit snow slopes. It took us about four hours to climb them and we reached the summit at 9 p.m. on May 18. We had a hard time reaching the last bivouac in the dark, sometimes down climbing, sometimes rappelling. The next day, we rappelled the rest of the route to the access couloir.
Our route, Les Temps Sauvages, is a beautiful climb, not too hard on perfect granite. The sun reaches the face at 9 a.m. and stays until 7 p.m. To climb the route, you will need about two sets of cams, one set of nuts and 15 pitons. No equipment was left on the pitches. All rappels (45 to 50 meters) except for two are equipped with two pitons (the other two use a single bolt). From the second bivy, rappels are equipped straight down and don’t follow the route. All bivouacs are comfortable on good ledges.
The weather was rather capricious. During our climb, mornings were sunny and afternoons cloudy with some snow. We departed Base Camp May 24.
Remi Thivel, France