7 July 2022, Zaubergerg, South West Face Of Pointe Percée, Aravis

The Col des Annes is not only a great spot in to enjoy the Savoyard summer alpine meadow ambiance it’s also a launching pad for adventures further in to this big limestone country in the heart of the northern Aravis.

Base camp by the new Pointe Percée Refuge with the superb Gramusset cliffs beyond and Col Vert beyond that.

After an hour or so of rocky limestone paths the big new hut is reached.  We didn’t even stop for a brew as we suspected there may be stiff challenges ahead and the views of this striking Gramusset cliff on this SW face of Pointe Percée only confirmed this was likely to be the case.  These cliffs certainly have the wow factor!

Andy doing well with cold fingers on the chilly, tricky and technical first pitch of Zaubergerg (7a)
Coming out of the hard moves near the top of the first pitch. Shady cool conditions and only 20m up the crag but plenty of climbing already done! Photo Andy Perkins.

It was pleasantly cool on the walk up to the base of the crag, but this felt more like a bit nippy for the thin and technical climbing from the gun at the base of the route.  Andy did well to keep fingers warm enough to make the tricky and technical leftwards traverse at the top of the first pitch.

Hard moves right at the end of a brilliant long 7a second pitch

The sustained climbing continues on to the 2nd pitch.  Whilst not initially as cruxy as the moves on the first pitch there is a little route finding to be done and some slightly bold climbing between the bolts.  The technical walls continue to the last bolt on the pitch – with the chain almost in reach – but only an array of small horizontal pockets to choose from…none of which are very good!

Andy setting off on the brilliant sustained 3rd pitch, 6c+.

The sun arrived over the top of the crag in time for the 3rd pitch, but temperatures were still not very warm.  The quality of the climbing remains very high on this also brilliant 3rd pitch, probably a touch easier than the previous 2 but with a lot of varied climbing.

Haul line on the left – but the orange rope on the right marks the intricate – technical – steep moves on some great rock of this 3rd pitch crossing the 2 significant overlaps at the top of the pitch.
Crossing the 2 overlaps at the top of the 3rd pitch. Photo Andy Perkins.

The arrival of more & bigger holds at the start of the 4th pitch is welcome after the beautiful and grippy but thin and finger shredding rock below.  The climbing remains sustained, with some impressive exposure and a wild roof to cross with some funky holds!

Airy traverse in to the 4th pitch. Bigger holds than the rest of the route, but retaining the quality and by no means a path! Photo Andy Perkins.

The belays on the route thus far have all been hanging / semi hanging so it’s a pleasant change to have a mini terrace at the base of the 5th and final pitch.  Ledges can be hard to leave however and weary fingers and feet don’t help with that!

Unrelenting! The 5th and (fortunately!?) last pitch of Zaubergerg which Andy did well to force to the top of the route.

Andy did a great job of negotiating with the unrelenting central and upper section of this pitch.  Hard thin moves felt like a series of constant cruxes…with plenty of fatigue from the climbing below…not all free for for me…but what a route!

Welcome to El Cap in the Aravis! Steep abseils with some traversing too. Not a completely straight forward abseil piste! Photo Andy Perkins.

What a crag too and even the abseils are pretty memorable on the Grammusset.  Steep & overhanging in places, Andy commented it felt like ‘El Cap’!

The abseil route down a sea of steep limestone on the Gramusset

We didn’t break any speed records climbing Zaubergerg but it was a great adventure deep in the heart of big Aravis limestone country.  On walking back through the colourful alpine meadows back to the Col des Annes we commented that whilst we were ‘only clipping bolts’ it didn’t always feel like sport climbing!

Andy arriving at the top of the 4th pitch and only decent belay ledge on the route…and what a route!

Zaubergerg topo on Camp to Camp.

Our Summer & Autumn 2022 Mountaineering & Rock Climbing Courses – Remaining Availability

Many of our summer 2022 courses are now full but we do have a few selective places remaining and can still arrange private guiding for Chamonix rock climbing and, depending on dates, alpine guiding.

The selected courses below are all running and ready for you to join & you can keep an eye on the full programme on our course page here.

The new Pointe Percée Hut nestled amongst huge boiler plates of limestone set in the heart of big northern limestone country.