16 December 2021, Cogne Ice Climbing Opening Week

Compared to a recent series of deep freeze mornings, it was relatively mild in Cogne this morning.  Ice has been steadily building in advance of the Cogne ice opening, and there is plenty to show for it in the Valnontey which we took a walk up today…

One of numerous appealing ice lines on the Left bank of the beautiful Valnontey Valley

Numerous lines on the climbers right side of the valley have an appealing mix of well formed ice walls and easier angled runnels.  Lower down on the sunny side there is little snow left on the slopes but higher on the shady side there is decent snow cover.  We could see a complete looking Monday Money further up the valley and, apparently, a strong local team climbed Repentance yesterday for the first time this season, describing the conditions as severe – hard – thin – wet – typical early season conditions!

R hand steeper start to the first pitch of ‘Patri’, Cogne

In much more friendly fatter ice, we climbed the Patri Left hand route in good conditions, with a slightly steeper R hand start as per Kev picture above.

Kev climbing nice little ice wall above the bolted first belay and leading to easier snowy ground & another little pitch to reach the upper snow bay.

The upper wall on the left hand finish gave nice sustained climbing in to the narrow rocky gully above.

The fine ice wall last pitch of Patri L hand which leads in to the upper rock gully

The ice in the superb rock enclosed easy angled upper gully was not abundant but nice and sticky!

Upper Gully on Patri L Hand

After rapping off the bolt anchor at the top of the Left hand finish we climbed the easy initial ramp on the right side of Patri Right, which leads to a bolt anchor to the side of a wet dripping cave with the big icicles soaring above.

Patri L Hand finish

Kev braved the cold shower and was rapidly rewarded with fun back and footing giving initially remarkably unstrenuous climbing through steep ground.  The groove and steeper wall above gave fun climbing with decent ice and some natural hooks but the route has not had many ascents yet this season, although it got several more today!

Another team followed up the steep pillar on the right of the groove giving a direct & sustained pitch, and avoiding the wet cave!  As per climber on the photo below.

Up in Lillaz there were reports of decent ice on Lau Bij and there was plenty of ice on the lower pitches at least of Cascade Lillaz.  It’s the Cogne ice opening festival this weekend and whilst the clinics are all already fully booked it’s well worth heading to Cogne to enjoy the good early season conditions and currently great weather too.

Megeve dry tooling
Good training – good fun – mixed climbing on the La Stassaz bolted routes, Megeve

Please get in touch if you would like to do some guided ice climbing or training in the Cogne or Chamonix areas.  From this weekend, the middle and high mountain lifts of the Mont Blanc Massif will be open so there will hopefully be a good variety of options from valley cascade to middle mountain mixed to high altitude icy and goulottes…

You can even do a half day for Chamonix intro ice climbing training, or a short route here:

Half Day Chamonix Ice Climbing

The line of least resistance up through the various runnels , icicles and options forming the first wall of the Cascade de Gauche, Le Reposoir, Aravis.

Chamonix Ice & Mixed Climbing