| CERVINO - MATTERHORN - Liongrat
||by Josep M. Solà|
Plus que n'importe quelle autre, elle est la cime idéale: celle que les enfants imaginent sans avoir jamais vu le moindre sommet (...) entourée de glaciers, une pyramide qui pointe vers le ciel.
Etoiles et tempetes, Gaston Rebuffat.
It took us more than one year to arrange the final date: either the wetter conditions were too bad or some of us could not manage to start the trip. But this was the definitly attempt.
Nervous but extremly motivated, the 30th July of 2004 I arrived to Breuil with my Renault Clio after five driving hours and some tier problems on my shoulders. By having spent a non really comfortable night on the back sit of my car, I woke up on the early morning of the xxth ready to meet my friends who arrived last nigth at Torino's first class airport. Just on time of opening my eyes, he appeared to me like a giant growing in the sky: he looked like even more enormous that what I expected... But he was also, even prettier!
While doing our final shoping in Breuil, we were confirmed that the Carrel's refuge was closed because of some arrangement works. That meaned that not much people would be on the mountain those days... but, also, that we'd have to vivac for some nights. Life it's like this!
With all the adquired information we configured our attack plans: that afternoon (Saturday) we would reach the Abruzzi refuge. The next day (Sunday) we would gently climb until the Carrel's refuge and finally on Monday we should reach the summit and descend.
Already late on the afternoon we started our approaching march to Abruzzi. Surprisingly, it took us no more than two hours to supperate the difference of 800 meters! Once installed on the refuge (also closed bacause of works... but with a nice kitchen to be used) we met a curious couple who was already descending from the submit. They let us astonished, when they said that they had started their trip that morning from the Abruzzi, they had reached the submit and finally, descended those 1700 meters again!
Definetively, we were extremly motivated: the talk with that couple gave us enough motivation to propose a small change in our plans. While having dinner, we agreed that those ropes arriving to Refugio Carrel before eight on the morning would already try to reach the Cervino, and descend to Refugio Carrel to meet the others that night. The rest of ropes, would climb the Cervino the day after. So, the probability that none of us reached the submit because of bad weather conditions became drastically reduced.
And with the amazing idea of climbing the Cervino the next morning, I got to my sleeping bag waiting for the alarm clock giving me the Let's go signal.
The Let's go signal from my alarm clock is there! Sparing as much time as possible I wake up, I prepare my ruck sac and we have some fast breakfast with Quim, my rope partner.
Alrady with the harness we go out from Abruzzi and start our trip to Carrel's cross. It's still dark, and the frontal ligths help us looking for the way.
We don't find the Carrel's cross. However we continue going up: last evening we saw some guys taking a couloir which turned from rigth to left and we figure out where to find it. After the couloir, we border a small glacier which leads us to the final slopes of the Coll du Lion.
We reach the Coll du Lion. The Carrel's refuge is just in front of us. We don't see our friends comming after us... but they might be over there.
We reach the beginning of the Wimper's Chimney. However, last summer's heat completly destroied it and, from now on, it should be called Wimper's Slab... it's basically a partially overhanged slab of about 15 meters. Luckily, there's already a fixed rope which allows to easily pass it. (If not, it's graduated as something like 6b). We decide to start using our 60 meter rope at this point. After using three quicks I belay my partner from the top of the slab.
We arrive to Carrel's Refugge. As it was expected there is none over there... but the door is openned! Thus, we leave some food, some water and our slipping sacs inside.
We have done all the way from Abruzzi to Carrel in about two hours: we are now completly decided to attempt the submit today!
After having visual contact with our collegues who are still climbing to the refuge, we start our way to the Cervino. Just behind the refugge, the first fixed rope indicates us that the route won't be easy at all: a smal overhang of about 2 meters points the start of the way. Afterwards, some fixed ropes help to fast climb several slabs.
Suddenly, no more fixed ropes in front of us. We have just passed in between of two small gendarmes (if you are fatter than 60cm you should better turn them round!) and a scree of big blocks appear in front of us. Behind the scree, a small glacier points the correct way to the Gran Corde but... how to get there?
We have tried to climb towards the gendarmes to, afterwards, cross to the upper part of the glacier... but no way to continue like this. We are too high and now, we must go down: descending a small couloir we find the correct way to the glacier. We still don't know that, at this point, after 12 hours we would have to vivac!
Our collegues are behind us: they are all trying to climb it today! It's nice to be all together!
Finally, the glacier! At the upper part of it, there is a fixed metal rope which help traversing the glacier without using grampons. Above it: the Grande Corde
We reach the beginning of the Grande Corde. I manage to climb it in free style (IV, about 30 m): the rock is surprisingly good and I feel like at home!
After a short break we start climbing the ridge to the Tyndall Peak. Quim starts leading our rope and we progress really fast. At this point, we realise that our ridge's trainings in the Pyrenees have been usefull.
The ridge is not difficult in general, but much exposed to the left side and presents some mixed passages.
We reach the Tyndall Peak. The weather conditions are excelent. Behind us, our collegues are still climbing the ridge and, in front of us, the Cervino's final wall appears insuperable. However, we make out where the Jordan's stair is fixed to the wall.
After taking some photos, we continue trought a sharped-iced ridge which afterwards becomes rocky and quite exposed. Although there are some rapel equipements, we don't hesitate to do this down-step ridge on direct style.
We reach the enjambée: the union of the Tyndall Peak and the Cervino. It's commonly said that this is highly exposed passage... but we are so motivated for the submit, that we just don't realise about it!
After some mixed climbing in an ascending scree we reach the begining of the Jordan's stair. Once again, leading our rope I open this passage... but no free climbing anymore: I start to feel tired and it's getting late. In addiition, a small water fall (because of melting ice) is heating to my face along all the passage.
We have already passed the Jordan's passage and three fixed ropes lead us to the submit. The way it's extremly easy with such artificial elements, but I'm too exhausted to avoid using them: we have marched for more than 9 hours and our bodies are starting to charge for it!
Finally, after the last fixed rope, an easy climbing seems to lead us to the end of the ridge... and... the CERVINO! We are completly alone on the submit and the views all around are unconstrained. Wellcome to the heaven!
It seems that the Hörnli ridge is too snow-capped to be climbed and, thus, the flock is resting at the valley.
However, none of the other collegues is here and we haven't seen them for long time: they might have abandoned at Tyndall because of time constraints... that's really a pitty!
We sit down and try to eat something. However, my stomach is closed and I only manage to drink some water and eat some sweets. We feel proud of our hard work and this is the result:
It's starting to get late, and we harry up to start going down. We still have 6 hours of light, so there sould be no problem to get to Carrel's refuge before dark.
Not further away from submit than 50 meters, we see a blue helmet reaching the last ridge... it's one of our collegues! They (Fonso and Lluis) have succeeded and we decide to go with them again to the submit. They are also exhausted, but... as usual... a hard work has a recompense: (the Montblanc it's in background)
While they have a short rest (it's already getting late to lose any second) I take another pictures from the submit. This is the dreamed Cervino's cross, and the Swiss submit (taken from the Italian submit):
It's time to go down! From now on, we are four people going together and thus, we are able to use two ropes: this is really helpfull to make a fast rapeling descent.
While preparing the belay on top of the Jordan's passage... once more... a helmet going up: they are two more collegues (Xerry and VicenÇ) arriving here! They are completly decided to finish climbing the 30 minutes left until the submit.
Now the decision of what to do is crucial: if we four decide to continue descending without them, it's almost sure they'll have to sleep on the ridge. However, if wait for them two, it's not clear if we'll have enough time to get the refuge before dark.
Hopping that using three ropes we'll descent even faster, we wait for them at that belay,
Now we are all together on top of the Jordan's passage, ready to go down. We have no more than 5 light hours to reach the refuge... so, we hurry up.
It's already too dark to continue. After crossing the glacier under the Grande Corde we have lost the way. We are at 4000 meters, and the refuge is not further away than 30 minutes... but we are to tired and it's dangerous to continue through the scree in this conditions. In a small ledge we place our vivac: a friend and some cordinos will assure our resting night.
Fortunatly, I have my vivac sac with me: I get in, dressed with whatever I have... including the Gore-Tex.
No clouds on the sky, no wind... only the small sparkling lights from Cervinia and the celestial vault behind us.
Surprisignly, I have slep the whole night: my first vivac at 4000 meters has seemed to me like a night on the beach!
The first sun ligth has waken us up. We are six people in the same vivac, but it seemd that I'm the only one hwho has slept well...
Three of our collegues might be at the refuge waiting for us: we should no worry them anymore and we continue going down.
Definetly, last night we were in the rong way, and we start the journey with a nice 50 meters rapel to reach the correct path.
We are again at Carrel's refuge! Our friends were ready to call the emergency services... but at last moment, we have appeared!
They give us a warm welcome together with an enormous pasta meal: we have not eaten anything hot for the last 26 hours!!!
It's time to rest and relax. We are again in a friendly environment and while my eyes get closed in my sleeping bag, the infinite views from the submit come to my mind. Outside the refugge, a new day it's starting...
Josep M. Solà
Before starting our attack to the Cervino I exhaustivly searched at internet for some climbing information on the Liongrat... but I found almost nothing. I'm still wondering wheter this is in purpouse of someone, or if anyone has any thought of that!
Therefore, I decided to provide the hummanity with some graphical information on the climbing route through Liongrat. Once more: this is only orientative, and I'm not undertaking any responasabilitie from the use of this information!
From Carrel Refuge to Tyndall Peak.
From Tyndall Peak to the Cervino
El Cervino, allò que m'imaginava quan sentia la paraula muntanya: envoltada de glaceres, una piràmide que apunta cap al cel!
D'aquesta forma va descriure el Cervino en Gaston Rébuffat, la primera persona en resoldre les sis cares nord dels Alps. I des de llavors, res no ha canviat.
El passat 31 de Juliol vuit gironins ens encaràvem a aquesta cèlebre piràmide alpina per la seva cara italiana: dos de nosaltres, membres del Centre Excursionista Farners. Però no hi anàvem amb les mans buides. Al nostre darrera hi havia tota una primavera d'entrenament continuat: des de la interminable cresta dels Bessiberris a la Vall d'Aran en condicions hivernals fins a nombroses escalades sota la comfortable calor de Maig a Llafranc.
Les condicions no podrien pas ser més bones: la meteo és perfecta i la muntanya està deserta de gent (els guies han tancat el refugi per obres i l'Agost passat un despreniment de roca va augmentar considerablement la dificultat d'un dels passos clau). Amb aquesta motivació, el capvespre del 31 de Juliol, ens plantem al primer refugi de la cara italiana a 2802 metres.
Encara amb lleganyes als ulls, a les 5 del matí de l'1 d'Agost surto del refugi amb el meu company de cordada (en Quim, de Sarrià). Imponentment, el Cerví s'alça en la penombra... fins al cel! De debò que volem arribar allà dalt?
A la llum del frontal anem desxifrant el camí més obvi per entre tarteres i canals. Finalment, després d'escalar amb l'ajut d'una corda fixa el que resta de la fissura Whymper (ara convertida en una placa llisa de roca graduada en 6b), arribem a les 8 del matí al refugi que els guies italians han construït a 3835 metres...avui completament desert!
Després de deixar algunes provisions per a la baixada, comencem l'atac definitiu cap al cim. No és fàcil trobar la ruta més òptima enmig del caos de pedres a 4000 metres quan al davant... no hi ha ningú! Per fi, un cop escalats els 30 metres del diedre de la Grande Corde (IV+), arribem a la cresta que condueix al cim. Són les 10 del matí, i per davant ens queden encara bastants hores de crestejar... i el mur final que uneix el Pic Tyndall (4240 metres) amb el cim (4478 metres).
Exhausts, però increïblement feliços, a les 3 de la tarda arribem al cim del Cervino: han estat 10 hores d'escalada i gairebé 1500 metres de desnivell... però el cim ja és nostre! Però hem fet només la meitat del treball: ens resta encara el descens. A les 5 de la tarda aconseguim agrupar-nos tres de les quatre cordades gironines i continuem junts la baixada. Infinita! Encadenar ràpel, rera ràpel després de 15 hores de màxima concentració és una prova molt dura per al cap.
Tal i com em temia, a les 10 del vespre la foscor ens cobreix amb el seu mantell d'incertesa, inseguretat... i fred. A 4010 metres... només a una hora del refugi. Però ja no hi ha res a fer, i resignats, ens preparem per a dormir allà mateix. Sortosament trobem una petita plataforma on ens hi podem encabir tots sis i des d'allí contemplem la llarga nit alpina coberts per un cel màgicament estrellat i la joia d'un altre cim a les nostres espatlles.
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