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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.