/ Moderate alpine rock climb recommendations

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IvanLi 13 Nov 2019

I know there is plenty of info on this topic on the net, but my question is rather specific so feel like posting it anyway.

i am quite new to rock climbing, having climbed for 6 months now and am confident following 5.8/9, can get over 10a/b just ok.

I am looking for your ideas on what to climb in the Alps. I want long aesthetic lines that lead to the summit on high quality rock, the likes of Piz Badile Nordkante.

Also, how difficult are the classic Chamonix climbs like Voie des Suisses on Grand Capucin? The crux pitches are 6aish, but are they real 6a's or more on the soft side of the grade?

any ideas/info are much appreciated.

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teh_mark 13 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

Are you planning on climbing it of your own accord with a partner, or would you be looking to be guided? No judgement, I only ask because:

> i am quite new to rock climbing, having climbed for 6 months now and am confident following 5.8/9, can get over 10a/b just ok.

> Also, how difficult are the classic Chamonix climbs like Voie des Suisses on Grand Capucin? The crux pitches are 6aish, but are they real 6a's or more on the soft side of the grade?

(My bold)

The routes on the Mont Blanc Massif side of the valley are generally very much trad, fixed gear or otherwise. You'll want to be confident leading the grade and confident general - with ropework, with moving and placing gear quickly and efficiently. It's not a place to experiment with pushing your grade; you need to be operating confidently at the grade of your chosen route. You'll also want to be confident in the environment and in moving on glaciated terrain. But you probably already know that, so apologies for the probably unnecessary caution.

> I am looking for your ideas on what to climb in the Alps. I want long aesthetic lines that lead to the summit on high quality rock, the likes of Piz Badile Nordkante.

For aesthetic at ~6a, take a look at the Aiguille Dibona. Beautiful mountain, pointy summit, *** classic routes. I haven't done it personally, but it's been on my list of things to do for a very long time now. Utterly captivating.

Post edited at 14:41
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gooberman-hill 13 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

Ivan,

as someone who has done it, I can safely say that this is exactly the wrong way to start an Alpine climbing career, and will at best be a learning experince (*). Alpine climbing climbing generally combines difficult and long approaches, altitude, climbing with sacs etc. And then when you get to the top you are only half way there, it's getting dark and a thunderstorm is building / underway.

You need to start with smaller and easier objectives to build you competence and experience. This doesn't mean that you won't have an amazing time and climb some great rock in magnificent surroundings.

For early alpine routes, I would actually not recommend Chamonix at all. It can be really big and frightening, and the temptation is always to push for the hardest thing you think you can do. Rather, you might want to consider the Alpes Maritimes. Base yourself at St Martin Vesubie (1hr by bus from Nice airport) - there are several campsites, morning and evening minibuses (navettes) from the village to the roadheads, a pool, restaurants and bars. The climbing is all accessible in a day, and there are no glaciers (although maybe some snowfields to cross earlier in the season). Rock is generally excellent granite, and the routes aren't crowded. Thunderstorms generally start 2-3pm. Things that you might consider doing:

You could also head over to the Refuge Remondino on the Italian side, and climb on the Cime de Nasta - lots of good rock routes (the guardians will set you straight). You could do a route on the Nasta in a day from the French side, but you would be very unlikely to make the navette back into the village! 

Enjoy!

Steve

(*) The best way to learn is through experience, usually an extremely frightening one.

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Toerag 14 Nov 2019
In reply to gooberman-hill:

> Ivan,

> as someone who has done it, I can safely say that this is exactly the wrong way to start an Alpine climbing career, and will at best be a learning experince (*). Alpine climbing climbing generally combines difficult and long approaches, altitude, climbing with sacs etc. And then when you get to the top you are only half way there, it's getting dark and a thunderstorm is building / underway.

> You need to start with smaller and easier objectives to build you competence and experience. This doesn't mean that you won't have an amazing time and climb some great rock in magnificent surroundings.

> For early alpine routes, I would actually not recommend Chamonix at all. It can be really big and frightening, and the temptation is always to push for the hardest thing you think you can do.

Agreed, there's loads more to the alps than Cham.  There's plenty to do in the German / Austrian / Italian limestone alps where you're not going to have to worry about snow, glaciers or altitude sickness.  I'd have thought the Swiss 'Plaisir' guides would be a good place to start?

To the OP - how many pitches / metres of climbing can you do in a day?  I also appreciate that you're not European and will invariably want to go to the 'crucible' of alpine climbing, but at your point in your climbing career I don't think you'd be able to make the most of it.

Post edited at 11:10
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Dave Garnett 14 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

> I am looking for your ideas on what to climb in the Alps. I want long aesthetic lines that lead to the summit on high quality rock, the likes of Piz Badile Nordkante.

Long and aesthetic is fine as long as you are quick and confident with your multipitch rope work.  You are focused on the 6a cruxes but although obviously you need to be able to deal with these efficiently it's equally important that you do the apparently easy stuff safely and quickly even when tired and in less than ideal conditions and are solid doing awkward descents.

I did the Cassin on the Badile this year and where we very nearly came unstuck was on the easy ground of the Nordkante.

Post edited at 11:52
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felt 14 Nov 2019
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Unstuck?

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Dave Garnett 14 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

Literally.  We missed the easiest way and the rock was wet and slippery.

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HammondR 14 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi: when I did the north ridge of the Badile I was already an experienced alpinist, leading lots of E1's and quite a few E2's at home. We didn't hang about on it and still got back to the hut in the dark. Do not under estimate these things. 

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gooberman-hill 14 Nov 2019
In reply to HammondR:

Yeah - absolutely. You need to back off a good few grades.

When I did the Cordier Pillar (TD 6b)  (which is about E1 - maybe with a British 5c crux) I was leading E2-E3 solidly, had half a dozen alpine seasons under my belt and did it with a couple of Peak lads who were E4 leaders. We block led it, and had a bit of an epic involving a thunderstorm and got back to the tent at 3am). 

Steve

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John Gresty 14 Nov 2019
In reply to HammondR:

It is nearly 40 years since I did the N. Ridge of the Badile, on my first ever Alpine Holiday. The pair of us had no idea what we were doing, our first ever Alpine rock climb and almost at the max grade we could climb, especially in big boots with very little gear. We soon overtook the 'seasoned pair of alpine climbers' who were supposed to be showing us the way and had to wait for them quite a while on the summit. Then we had to get down !

Stupid, probably,  luckily good fortune with the weather, but it was an adventure. Nowadays I suspect dealing with the crowds could be the most unnerving part of the climb if one isn't used to it.

So don't be put off by the 'prophets of doom'.

John

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IvanLi 15 Nov 2019

Thank you, guys, loads of great input!

teh_mark:

I mentioned following since I only follow/toprope climbs at the moment. This is my deliberate position on climbing, since as much as I love the mountains and rock, it isn't my main occupation and I am not a naturally gifted athlete, so I decided I would better cut out all the unnecessary and avoidable risks. I get plenty of adrenaline and joy toproping and following stuff, but may turn to leading at some point when I am more experienced and have more trust in what I am doing. So, yes, I would be looking to be guided.

Toerag:

I am climbing the seaside cliffs and I have done as long as 500 meters of climbing in a day, but I have to admit it was more scrambling rather than climbing. Speaking of the pure climbing, the longest I have done was probably more or less 200 meters of which 130 is F4 and the rest is half F5 and half F6a/+. All of it with a 5-7 kg sack.

Here are some pictures of the routes I have done this year:

Russian grade 4B (some very awkward chimney crux, lots of choss, grass, scrub) - http://www.mountain.ru/article/article_img/1118/f_1.jpg

4A  - https://alpinist.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1116.jpg

https://alpinist.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/1IMG_3940-large.jpg - the line is on the right

http://www.mountain.ru/world_mounts/crimea/foros_kant/2003/Uarch_Karnaval/img/carnroute.jpg - the route in red.

I had some problems with the crux moves on the first and the last route, but fared alright in the end.

Please, don't consider this as bragging (there is nothing to brag about to be honest), but rather to give you an idea of my current climbing level.

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Tom Last 16 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

^^^These in Crimea? They look great.

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IvanLi 16 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom Last:

Yes, it is. Limestone cliffs, but the quality of the rock isn't always great and there is a lot of grass on some of the routes.

beautiful place, though.

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Pero 16 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

The only person who can answer your question is the one you are asking to guide you up these climbs.

I imagine if you are fit, fast and competent a professional guide would take you up some great alpine routes.

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IvanLi 16 Nov 2019
In reply to Pero:

My goal isn't to be taken (dragged up) some great routes which are ahead of my learning curve but rather get an idea of where to start alpine climbing to get the greatest and most enjoyable experience possible.

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Pero 16 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

But, if you're not prepared to lead, it's all down to your partner and what they can climb. Someone has to lead the route.

Unless you hire a guide then it all depends on your partner's ability and experience.

It makes no difference whether you think you could second the Voie Suisses unless you find someone prepared to lead you up it. They can take a look at your climbing and decide.

Post edited at 17:43
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AJM79 17 Nov 2019
In reply to IvanLi:

Hi Ivan,

If you don't want to get dragged up then I'd suggest starting at the beginning. Look for some AD's or less serious D's and you'll have a great time. Even if you're seconding, alpine climbing is inherently risky and you need to be moving well/fast. The climbs you've mentioned are all quite advanced and not very suitable for a newbie non-leader so if you want to enjoy the experience then drop the grade and just enjoy being out in the hills.

By the way 6a in Cham feels hard and you're on trad gear to boot, in fact it's not uncommon for experienced climbers to get spanked on the 5's (including me) and I've led in the 7's on bolts and 6c on trad. Enjoy, but always remember that the Alps are badass mountains so treat them with respect.

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teh_mark 17 Nov 2019
In reply to AJM79:

> By the way 6a in Cham feels hard and you're on trad gear to boot, in fact it's not uncommon for experienced climbers to get spanked on the 5's (including me) and I've led in the 7's on bolts and 6c on trad.

Well that's brightened my day up no end. I'd come to the conclusion that I'm just really shit!

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AJM79 17 Nov 2019
In reply to teh_mark:

Nowt like shitting yourself on the bit you thought was going to be easy. It's best to think of them as grit HVS's from the days when men were men.

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