The north face of the Grandes Jorasses is one of the most sought-after alpine walls. Slovenian climbers Luka Lindic and Luka Krajnc recently made a three-day, first free ascent on the 1,000-metre face, during a six-day car-to-car trip.
With unstable weather plaguing alpine climbers around Chamonix this winter, Lindic and Krajnc waited patiently for a window. Their first plan was to climb the Gousseault-Desmaison route on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, but heard other climbers had the same plan. After hearing the news, they made a new plan to climb the harder route, Rolling Stones, a yet-to-be-freed aid route.
Approach: They approached on skis with big packs. They slept below the route and made a plan to free the entire route.
Day one: They free climbed “extremely steep” rock and ice until they were forced to “chisel out a ledge in a small section of ice to prepare for an uncomfortable night.”
Day two: After a sobering first day, the duo were “not very optimistic, tired, and the steepest part was still to come.” They climbed hard pitch after hard pitch until the crux. Lindic led the A3 crux, “The first part was straightforward with good protection. After an old rusty bolt the pitch steepened. To add to the challenge there were three huge loose blocks, a scary proposition since we were climbing with a single rope. Somewhat scared, I gingerly climbed up and around these blocks, choosing not to place any protection for a few metres. I could hear the blocks making strange noises as they shifted. After another few very careful minutes of climbing I was at the belay. Yes! I did it!”
Day three: The climbers awoke to worsening conditions but managed to reach the summit before nightfall and began their descent down the south face.
Day four: The fog was too thick and the climbers stayed another night.
Day five: The climbers awoke to blue-bird conditions and descended to Courmayeur.
” We made a first free ascent and managed to on-sight every pitch. We estimate that the hardest pitch is M8, with a scary section climbing over big loose blocks. At least three other pitches are in the M7 range, and several others around M6. However, and as always, numbers do not tell the whole story.”
An impressive alpine-style ascent using minimum protection. For more photos and the entire story, visit here.