Ascent of Aiguille du Gouter on 2017-07-31

Climber: James Stone

Others in Party:Steve Monks
Date:Monday, July 31, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Aiguille du Gouter
    Elevation:12674 ft / 3863 m

Ascent Trip Report

Disappointing end to 10 days of poor weather in the Alps.

Attempt from the Tete Rousse hut which had been reached the previous day from the Nid d'Aigle station through strong wind, cloud, hail/rain and thunder crashing around us. The forecast promised strong winds which were due to abate in the afternoon. So we delayed leaving the hut until the relatively late hour of 5am. Despite the relatively warm weather the Grand Couloir was quiet for us and we ascended the rocky ridge to the Goûter Hut in just over two and a quarter hours.

There we took shelter from the wind for some rest in the hope that the promised lull would occur. After a further hour and a half we could wait no longer, so we set off up again being regularly pummelled and occasionally knocked over on the snow ridge above the Gouter. There was also about 10cm of fresh snow on the ground so there was no track to follow. Things calmed down slightly as we ascended the Dome de Goûter and wound our way around some small crevasses. But we were hit again by the wind and occasional snow/hail showers as we contoured just below the top of the Dome. We staggered our way down to the Col de Goûter and up to the Vallot Refuge for further shelter. After a short break there with a French guide and his client we all continued. But there was no sign of the wind relenting. We made about a further 50m of height and realised further progression was hopeless, particularly given the narrow ridge above us. We could barely keep our feet.

We retreated to the Vallot Refuge and waited for a further hour to see if things would improve. They did not. So we gave up - as did a number of other groups that joined us.

On the way back we diverted over the true top of the Dome de Goûter for a consolation "bag". The wind eventually abated at around 9pm but had regained its strength in the early hours following.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp

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