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First All-Women Team Climbs Bold Alpine Route on Grandes Jorasses

The route was first climbed nearly 30 years ago. "I think we did the first female team ascent of the Phantom Direct," said Fay Manners

Photo by: Marcello Sanguineti

At the end of January, Netherland climber Line van den Berg, 29, and U.K. climber Fay Manners, 35, made the first female ascent of Phantom Direct, also referred to as Via in memoria di Gianni Comino, in a single push. The Phantom Direct is an 1,600-metre ED VI/5/6, which makes it a serious mid-winter mixed climb.

It ascends the south face of Grandes Jorasses above Chamonix and was first climbed in 1985 by Giancarlo Grassi, Renzo Luzi and Mauro Rossi. It wasn’t repeated until 2020 by Yann Borgnet and Charles Dubouloz (read about their ascent here). Last month, Martin Elias, Simón Elias and Iker Madoz summited the long mixed rock and ice line. And Thomas Wuyts and Carlo Filippi climbed it on the same day as Line van den Berg and Manners in a 21-hour car-to-car push.

Van den Berg wrote about their incredible ascent on her blog here, saying, “I look Fay into her eyes, and before I can start my plea for us to continue – I am psyched and feel confident with the sleeping bag and stove in our bags that we will not freeze to death in case of an epic – I can tell she feels the same. We are in it for the adventure. We thoroughly discuss the possible risks of climbing through the night and strategies to keep up our energy and temperature levels, but it is settled: we will continue.”

Van den Berg and Manners have been climbing together since last year, when they climbed the classic Grand Capucin and Peuterey Integral. This winter, they’ve already climbed some difficult alpine lines, including the 350-metre alpine/ice line Filo di Arianna and the 300-metre mixed climb Goulotte Surcouf on Mont Maudit. Be sure to follow them on Instagram below.

Lead photo: Marcello Sanguineti