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History Made on Famed North Face in the Alps

A bold ascent up the Grandes Jorasses, a new route in the Mont Blanc massif and a steep ice route repeated

Thanks to good weather and not much snow, several difficult alpine routes in the French Alps have been climbed this season. One of the most significant ascents took place last week up a famous north face.

Symon Welfringer, Charles Dubouloz and Clovis Pauline made the first free ascent of Directissime de la Point Walker, an ED++ 7a A2 that was first climbed in 1986 by Patrick Gabarrou and Herve Bouvard. They not only freed it, but they made the second ascent and did it in winter over five days.

Dubouloz is familiar with the great wall, as in 2022 he he made the first winter solo ascent of the classic Rolling Stones over six days and five nights from Jan. 13 to 18. Rolling Stones gets the serious grade of ED WI5+ 6a M8 A3 and climbs 1,200 metres.

And last week, Italian alpinists Francois Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre and Stefano Stradelli established a new route on the west face of the Aiguille Noire du Peuterey in the Mont Blanc massif. Their new route is called Couloir Isaïe and goes at M8 5.12 AI5 and tops out on the Punta Brendel’s west face at 3,498 metres. The 600-metre 12-pitch route encompasses a range of technical rock, mixed and ice climbing – protected by removable gear and pitons.

The team spent a night in the couloir where spindrift rained down on them, resulting in a very cold and wet night’s sleep. They continued their climb the next day. “It is always difficult to reorder your thoughts after an adventure in the mountains,” said Cazzanelli. “Emotions are many and you never know where to start. On the west face of the Aiguille Noire we had a great adventure. It wasn’t easy but thanks to our willpower and great teamwork we did something really special that we will remember for a lifetime.”

Also last week, Symon Welfringer, Morgan Salmon and Nicolas Grandjean repeated huge ice climbed called The Muse M8 WI6+, which had only been climbed in 2005 and 2012.