On Wed. June 3, Cédric Lachat and Fabien Dugit made the first free ascent of Ballade au Clair de Lune (A Walk in the Moonlight) on the south face of the Aiguille du Fou.
Since the 1983 first ascent by Jean Marc Boivin, Eric Bellin and Martial Moïoli, the route had yet to be freed. After scouting the route in April and May, Lachat and Dugit projected the hard-to-protect pitches over a number of days before sending it.
In the end, the route clocked in at 5.13d with marginal pro on a number of sections.
Only one week before this free ascent, Dugit established a new route with Jeff Mercier up the west face of Aiguille du Plan.
In an interview with Petzl, Dugit said:
“To send the difficult and dangerous pitches, our original plan was to top rope them first to make sure we were solid. The reality of our situation was that we just didn’t have the time, so we made the choice to simply climb and not fall.
When we reached the legendary A3-A4 pitch, rated 5.13d, I still took the time ascend the fixed line and preview the climbing, marking a few key holds here and there. Next, I started climbing for the send, without working the pitch beforehand.
Honestly, a fall was simply not allowed: one, to avoid pulling any gear (there are two old aid bolts on the slab, and I would bet my left leg that both will pull if anyone ever falls on them, and yes I almost soiled myself), and two, we just didn’t have the time for a second attempt.
So I just went for it and sent, and Fab the machine seconded the pitch without falling.”
Read the complete interview and check out more awesome photos by Thomas Viallettet.