30 July 2021, Acqua Concert, Emosson Dam

Acqua Concert is an excellent 370m 6a rock climb on the Aiguille du Van, 2572m above the Emosson Dam just across the Swiss border at the NE end of the Mont Blanc Massif.  When viewed from the parking and excellent café at the Dam it takes the attractive buttress just to the left of the fine soaring Emosson ‘Walker Spur’ or NE Ridge of the Van.

The peak, the route, and the café…all excellent!

We set off pretty early this morning as there were storms forecast for this afternoon and it wouldn’t be a great place to get caught out and we preferred to top out on the route and summit rather than ‘abb off!’

Sun kissed gneiss! Early morning on the pleasant first pitch and big traverse of Acqua Concert

Scott does not hang about so after an hour we were enjoying the early morning sunshine at the first belay after the pleasant traversing ground of the first pitch with a couple of thinner moves to actually reach the anchor.

A small cairn and faint path marks the point where you leave the main path heading up to the Perrons traverse. From here a short rightward traverse leads to the foot of the face and start of the route

More sustained technicalities arrive early on the fine long groove of the sustained second pitch…and keep coming!

The sustained 2nd pitch with some solid 6a moves and a bit of padding…but on very good rock!

This is probably the crux of the route and has several ‘pas en adhérence’…or padding!  Not everyones favourite style of climbing but the rock and friction is good and with the early morning sun but fresh ambiance it gives a very enjoyable pitch.

The less sustained but equally tough 3rd pitch with a fine 6a wall…’bien redressé et peu prisu!’

The 3rd pitch is perhaps the next hardest on the route and although it’s less sustained than the previous has a very fine steep 15m wall with not many holds…but enough!

Scott after our soaking on the crux 3rd pitch, a good effort seconding this solid 6a pitch in the rain!

Scott got a soaking climbing this pitch as the heavy 0900 shower forecast by Meteo Suisse arrived very punctually.  Fortunately it disappeared pretty rapidly too!

The easier 4th pitch, 5b, wet at the start, dry by the end!

The rock was soaking wet which made it extremely slippery where the Lichen is present…which is pretty much everywhere…except for the holds!  Plus with just a hint of a breeze and sunny clearing, the rock was dry again in minutes.

The brilliant long changing corners 5th pitch, 5c and a solid 40m of sustained climbing. A 3 star pitch at a roadside crag…but as part of this journey and in this ambiance…

After a mini ramble up the grassy path in rock boots the base of the fine upper buttress is reached and the brilliant changing corners pitch.  This gives 40m of sustained 5c climbing on great rock in a fine position.

Pleasant easy scrambling terrain up the final section of the NE Ridge of the Van

Above there are 3 more 5b pitches and one more 5c pitch taking in the best rock, generally slabby, of the upper buttress to arrive on the impressive crest of the NE Ridge.  This looks like a good route in itself…has anyone done it and got any info to share?

Time to change back in to trainers! After the climbing section, there is a pleasant scramble to the summit.

We changed back in to trainers to enjoy the pleasant short scramble and fine summit views – with a change in emphasis from the ever present green lakes below – to the big black and white Chamonix north face country:

Looking across Les Perrons and into big Chamonix north face country from the summit of the route, and summit Aiguille du Van N

The descent from the summit of the Van N to the little breche (col) between the N and S summits is easy and logical but not immediately obvious although there are a few little cairns once you get established on the route.

An intricate and not immediately obvious but logical and easy descent to the Breche between the Aiguilles du Van N & S

Although there is still the odd big snow patch around in this shady valley bowl which forms the descent route, or the approach route to the classic traverse of Les Perrons.  We didn’t touch snow all day and were happy to not have to carry ice axe and crampons up the route!

Scenic slabby belay on the upper walls with the descent route and snow patches down via the classic Perrons approach path below.

Lower down on this descent route, if you don’t know it from having already done the traverse of the Perrons, there are several very short and easy rocky steps with the odd bolt for protection.

Scott enjoying the post route satisfaction of having climbed a soaring line…the Emosson Walker Spur!

We had not hung about and completed the round trip of the Aiguille du Van via Acqua Concert in just over 6 hours but the inbound storm had yet arrived…the café was in excellent condition and highly recommended….as is the route!

Scott on the summit of the Aiguille du Van