11 August 2021, Ex-Libris, Brilliant Chamonix Trad Rock Climbing

Maybe it was the appealing light grey colour of the rock or perhaps the brilliant sustained pitches of trad climbing, or maybe it was climbing with Fort William guide Kenny Grant….but either way, there was a distinctly Ben Nevis feel to climbing on the East Face of the Brevent this morning….It certainly wasn’t the weather or the walk-in that reminded us of climbing on The Ben!

Route: Ex-Libris, Brevent East Face, Chamonix Rock Climbing 

Grade & Length: 200m, 7 pitches up to 6b (one of those is basically steep loose walking…but the route is far too good for that to spoil it + it can be avoided),

Equipment:  Well bolted belays but a full and large rack of gear required for the long pitches of gear guzzling cracks!   Several large cams strongly recommended eg we had 1 x Size 3 and 1 x size 4 and more would be better for the longish section of wide cracks at the base of the main corner feature.

The brilliant first pitch of the big corner system on Ex-Libris. Worth having several big cams!

Despite last nights short but intense Chamonix storm, the rock was bone dry and in perfect conditions with sun and a light breeze.   Kenny set off up the fine smooth wall of the first pitch of Ex-Libris leaving me wondering if I would be able to move with the seemingly big wall rack we had brought with us.   It seemed excessive but was actually about right and another big cam would not have gone amiss!

The decent first pitch of Ex-Libris, 6a+? Worth doing but can be avoided and there is a long pitch of loose walking / scrambling above to get to the base of the main corner pitch.

The first pitch is good sport climbing on good rock, but as a bolted wall it’s quite out of character with the magnificent corners and cracks of the meat of the route above.

There was also a team on the wide crack just to the right of the main corner line of Ex-Libris, a new Thierry Renault route apparently, done very recently, which seemed to have bolted belays and nothing in between.  Big cams looked like a pretty important ingredient for that too!

Thiery Renault route – up the sustained wide crack system just R of the main corner pitch of Ex-Libris

The middle pitch of the main corner is a brilliant and harder continuation with some well protected and enjoyable thin bridging.

Kenny starting the brilliant middle pitch, 6b, of the soaring corner. Fine bridging but with footholds, unlike the start of the pitch above!

The start of the 3rd pitch of the main corner system, by contrast to the fine bridging below, is a thuggy layback up a steep corner crack.  Good well protected climbing, but not somewhere to hang about looking at the amazing view!

The end of the magnificent central corner via the 6a pitch with a strenuous start and pleasant easier climbing above to reach the wide and very loose terrrace.

Care is required for climbers and ropes moving around on the wide & easy but loose terrace above the main corner pitch.  There is a double bolt belay over on the left near the base of the final groove upper groove which gives 2 decent pitches leading right up on to the viewing terrace at Brevent summit & some good tourist climbing chat!

The penultimate pitch and still decent climbing all the way up to the very last loose but easy section right below the viewing terrace.

Good topo & info for the route here:

Topo site Hervé THIVIERGE

https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/175268/fr/brevent-ex-libris

Kenny reading the inspiring open book corner of Ex-Libris

General mountain conditions around the Mont Blanc Massif continue to be pretty snowy, for mid August, and we have several teams coming out to climb the Matterhorn in the next few weeks so hopefully the current good sunny weather will improve conditions on a still fairly snowy Hornli Ridge.

Due to a cancellation we have a place available on a 3 day Matterhorn preparation course STARTING THIS SATURDAY…

14-16 Aug, with some Chamonix rock climbing and mountaineering + the option to also extend to the Matterhorn summit climb after a rest day.

We also still have some availability for private guiding in Chamonix in August and for the rest of the summer and autumn seasons, so please get in touch if you would like to do some alpine or rock climbing in Chamonix.

  • 2 Places available on our 2 day Chamonix Mont Blanc Training course, 6-7th Sept.

For group courses – there is a regularly evolving situation with both regular bookings and cancellations – please check the details on our main mountaineering courses page and get in touch if you would like to join one of teams training and climbing in the Alps.

Likewise in Snowdonia and Scottish Highlands for our late summer and autumn Mont Blanc and Matterhorn training programmes please check for details here or get in touch for private guiding & training.

Les Cheserys, fine multi pitch rock climbing in the Chamonix Valley