Worlds most sustained multi pitch mixed route?

From ScottishClimbs

Jump to: navigation, search

Scott Muir - 18/05/2005

Jedi Master M11: WI3, M10-, M11, M9+, WI4+

After making the First Ascent of Tsunami M12 over in Valsavaranche beside Mission Impossible, I was looking forward to getting to work on my other project in Valleile, Cogne. A major line that once again, I can't believe has been overlooked.

My project started with Empire Strikes Back, probably Stevie Haston's best and biggest offering. Empire had caused pause for thought last season, enough pause to spend valuable time taking in the surroundings and unbelievable view. Spinning about on the rope I noticed a much more direct line that took all the rock roofs and stalactites at there largest and most demanding. Too much for one season (2004) however and I got on with the job in hand - sending Empire swiftly.

So I returned in Late Feb 2005 ready to do battle, armed with belayer Malcolm McIraith. I spend 3 days rigging the route. This in itself was a totally epic adventure. This route represented everything I'd been searching for and climbing towards over the last 3 years since I'd got into sport mixed and I felt the pressure build with every bolt placed. My new direct was massive! I felt sick looking up and my concern was that I might not do it this season. This concern was not focused on being able to complete each pitch, but in being able to climb all of them cleanly in a day! Did I have the stamina? There was to be no returning or jugging to complete unsuccessful pitches. It had to be done bottom to top and clean in a day.

Empire M8-, M10+/11, WI5, WI5, was already contender for the most sustained multi pitch mixed route in the world, and this new route was definitely going to be harder. Single pitch mixed is magic, but single pitches lack the commitment, uncertainty and dedication, not only from a rigging perspective, but also from a climbing approach. The best routes in hard sport mixed for the future have to lie in the big multi pitch lines yet to be found and climbed. Norway?? The last Frontier has a card or two yet to play!

Conditions were perfect, the temperature rose to -2. Comfortable for bare hands and light clothes and the final stalactite on pitch two I hoped might be a bit less brittle. I spent a day working each of the 3 main mixed pitches, this is a lot when you're poor belayer has to jumar each one and stand freezing for hours on end.

A rest day later and the first 2 pitches went first redpoint, I was delighted, but had pulled onto the ice on each pitch by the skin of my teeth and completely boxed. I sat under the final mixed pitch resting with only a few hours of daylight left. Launching out, I pulled so hard on my tools I broke the shaft at the handle. Disaster! My spare was at the bottom, what a cock up. I had to abseil to the ground down Malcolm's jug line, only to find I'd left my spare axe in the apartment. 30 minutes of jugging later and I was back at the ledge, wasted.

There was no other option but to use Malcolm's straight axe, as I wasn't going to do all that climbing again for anything or anyone. With hands opening, I threw my foot to the ice and 'nearly' the straight axe over my shoulder at the same time. Clipping the bolt belay above is one of the greatest moments of my life so far. All that was left was an ice romp to the top and get back to Bar Licone calling in the Valley. To get the full tick every pitch must be climbed by the same person in a day!

Personal tools