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Huge New Free Route on Petit Dru’s West Face

It's now one of the most difficult free routes on the famous peak above Chamonix, France

The Petit Dru in Chamonix has a new free route up the west face climbed by climbers from Chamonix’s Military High Mountain group (GMHM), including Thomas Auvaro, Jordi Noguere, Léo Billon, and Sebastien Ratel, over five days.

They called their route 1,000-metre route Base and it goes at VI M8+ 5.11+. They used webcams at the Montenvers train station to livestream some of their first ascent. They climbed it at the same time that Korra Pesce and Will Sim made the likely third ascent of the Southwest Pillar, which you can read about here.

Where Base now climbs once stood a number of routes, including Bonatti Pillar, first climbed in 1955 by Walter Bonatti. It collapsed in sections in 2003, 2005 and 2011. The rockfall also took out the 1965 American DIretissima by John Harlin and Royal Robbins.

The Bonatti Pillar

In 1955, after two attempts frustrated by the weather, Bonatti managed to solo climb a new route on the southwest pillar. The climb, rated ED+ with difficulties up to UIAA VIII-, required six days (and five hanging bivies). After five days of climbing on a vertical rock offering very limited protection, Bonatti found himself stalled and faced with an impassable overhanging section. On the left and on the right the rock was absolutely smooth. Bonatti put together all the slings and small sections of ropes he had on him, attached one end of the rope in a crack and swinging on the other end managed to negotiate the difficulty. In order to overcome long vertical sections and several overhangs, Bonatti had to adapt the techniques of aid climbing to the granitic rock formations of the Dru.