Ascent of Grande Rochere on 2010-06-27

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Sunday, June 27, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Grande Rochere
    Elevation:10912 ft / 3325 m

Ascent Trip Report

After the previous day's Mont Blanc ascent, we had a meal in Courmayeur, drove to the trailhead at Planaval, N45 46 50.1 E7 04 54.9, 1753m GPSr where we spent the night.

07:15, The trail starts beside (immediately N of) the hotel: a wide track which zig zags up through a yard then steadily ascends the hillside. It passes the dilapidated farm buildings of Rantin then descends a little to Bonalex, 2342m - apparently a private refuge? Here we see Red-billed Choughs (the only ones of the fortnight) as well as the ubiquitous yellow-billed Alpine variety.

From here, a sketchy track crosses boggy ground, a couple of streams, then a cairn at N45 48 29.1 E7 04 52.9, 2373m marks the start of a path which ascends L-R. The normal route apparently ascends the ridge directly above, with the option of "escaping" L and ascending the couloir. We actually ascended the ridge left of the couloir, then traversed R into the couloir at about 2600m. Being early season we encountered a lot of soft deep snow - no great technical difficulty but hard work. We continued up, skirting just below the saddle (corniced) S of the summit, then up steep snow (>45deg briefly) to reach the summit cross at about midday - no sign of any other footprints since the latest snow a week ago. The summit is straightforward but fairly scrappy with plenty of loose rock: the summit across to the west is much more impressive. The view is good although there is a fair bit of cloud around and no sign of Gran Paradiso.

After half an hour we head down. At the first saddle we pass a couple ascending - they appear to turn back before the summit. From here the soft snow makes for a quick easy descent, straight down the couloir. We complete the easy walk-out and are back at the car at 15:15, for a picnic followed by a drink at the hotel bar.

We then drive east to Champoluc, ready for Testa Grigia tomorrow.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5227 ft / 1593 m
    Total Elevation Loss:66 ft / 20 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Summit clear but views limited by cloud
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5227 ft / 1593 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5161 ft / 1573 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Loss on way in:66 ft / 20 m
    Route:East face
    Start Trailhead:Planaval  5751 ft / 1752 m
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Route:East face
    End Trailhead:Planaval  
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes

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