Nature rewards those who wait, Frendo Spur

A little tale of climbing the Frendo Spur in winter conditions



After days and days of sitting in Chamonix, drinking and stuffing our faces with quiche we finally had a break in the weather. I only had 2 more days in town so our sense of urgency was high to make the best of what we had. The storm left behind an amazing white blanket over the mountain faces and the Frendo Spur looked somewhat wintery. The route is graded D+ and it's over 1000m long, 1200m to be exact. Not too hard but technically enough to keep you engaged. Under winter conditions though, I was sure it would be at least a bit harder but difficult to say by how much. Considering my past experience on the route and the fact that by now we had totally lost our acclimatisation I am fine to confess that I had butterflies on my stomach when thinking about it. Nikolay though, was as excited as ever which helped me to slowly get my head in game mode. We woke up at five to get the first cable car up to Aiguille du Plan, where the approach starts but because of the previous stormy days the lift opened late because the staff needed extra time to clear all the snow that had accumulated on the platforms. I think we probably started the real climb past 9am and there was indeed a lot of snow and ice on the route. We had to dig out the cracks to find decent placements for our axes and crampons and the route finding was definitely way less obvious than what you would get in summer.

Stoke is high!
Nikolay negotiating the early slabs

The route kept giving all the way with very interesting mix climbing and a quick bit of aid on the crux. We had off widths, cracks, slabs, you name it! Everything took twice as long and we definitely felt the elevation. We were totally fucked by the last hours and the final ice field felt endless. We started laughing at some point because at every pitch we thought the end would be around the corner only to find another long steep icy pitch.

Me on the sharp end - and off route...
Night falls and we still have a good third of the route to complete
Simul climbing the last steep icy pitches

It took us 19h to climb the whole thing. We were miserably cold and exhausted when we reached the ridge, at around 2 in the morning. We got to the Midi station by 3am and slept inside the toilet, the only warm bit in the whole place. There were already 2 french guys in there who had just done the same route. At 6am we go the first lift back to town feeling equally tired and proud of having done the rote in such conditions. I lost 5kg on this climb, hah!

Long long day, absolutely cooked but still smiling!

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