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