Pedro Polar

26th August 2017

With a few days off work to enjoy, and a decent weather forecast, I teamed up with Sam Simpson and BMG aspirant guide James Clapham to head up to the Envers hut. Having an almost three hour walk-in from Montenvers, the Envers area is far from the madding crowds of the Midi, and usually stays relatively quiet. With huge expanses of rock, and walls up to 800m high, it is a granite paradise.

James on the first pitch (F6b+) of La Piege

 

After arriving, we headed for the Tour Verte, five minutes walk from the hut. La Piege offered six pitches of splitter cracks, and we got stuck in. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, and incoming afternoon thunderstorms forced a run for the hut after climbing only a single pitch. 

Sam scoping the moves on P2 (F6a) of Pedro Polar

 

The next day dawned brightly, and we braved the slightly longer (30min) approach to the Aiguille du Roc. Pedro Polar looked like a great line up some very steep granite. 

Into the steep section of the face on P3 (F5c)

 

The climbing proved a tougher challenge than the grades suggested, with pitches 4-6 giving the meat of the route. The fingertip cracks of pitch 4 provided the crux for James, with some fierce moves at around E3 6a.

Climber below emerging from the crux pitch (F6b) of Pedro Polar

 

The route gave excellent and varied climbing, mainly in steep and well-protected cracks. After a leisurely start to the day, and with one eye on making the last train from Montenvers, doing all 12 pitches in the time available was perhaps unrealistic. After completing the main section of the route to the top of pitch 8 at the shoulder, we called it good, and rapped off back to our boots at the bergschrund.

The third of eight abseils back to the glacier

 

The initial approach to the Envers hut from the Mer de Glace is in a dangerous state at the moment, with a hillside of rubble and boulders poised to tumble onto the right bank of the glacier. The lower sections of ladders and metal steps were damaged in a number of places, and this appears to be from recent rockfall this summer. A wide approach from the centre of the glacier, along with a speedy climb of the first several ladders is advisable.

Metal steps damaged by rockfall

Dangerous slopes on the right bank of the Mer de Glace. The Envers ladders climb up the broken cliffs on the left side of the photo