WEST FACE OF THE DRU RE-CLIMBED

Posted on: February 14, 2007


The classic view of the Aiguille Verte and Drus seen from Lac Blanc in the Aiguilles Rouges on July 3, 2005, several days after the massive rock fall. The huge scar on the west face, re-climbed in early February this year by Martial Dumas and Jean-Yves Fredericksen, is clearly visible. [Photo] Hilary Sharp

Two guides from the Chamonix Valley, Martial Dumas and Jean-Yves Fredericksen, have become the first to climb the right side of the west face of the Petit Dru (3733m) in the Mont Blanc Massif, France, since the huge rock fall of June 2005. In that year the Dru suffered the last, to date, of a series of massive rock falls, which finally destroyed the entire right side of the west face. The Shoulder and everything beneath it collapsed, with the resulting scar spreading leftwards towards the American Direct. The whole of the Bonatti Pillar and Harlin-Robbins Direttissima disappeared, as did the remains of other routes between. Climbers on the face a few days before the fall noted an ice-filled gap behind the Shoulder, the latter in the process of shearing away from the wall. The exact line taken by the two Frenchmen, and the technical difficulties of their new route, have not yet been disclosed. The pair started from the Grands Montets on January 29 with approximately 100kg of equipment including a portaledge and food for 10 days. Climbing in capsule style through temperatures that were relatively mild at the time (quoted as around -10 degrees C) the pair reached the top of the rock scar in six days. On the seventh, February 4, they continued up the old red granite to the summit Madonna. Reportedly breaking their hand drill early in the climb, the two were not convinced they could continue but devious route finding and making the best of the considerable amount of loose rock on the face, they won through, returning the following day down their route of ascent to the valley. A name of Les Papas has been mooted and the ascent was clearly no walk in the park: amongst other big wall climbs Dumas and Fredericksen made the third ascent of Riders on the Storm (Kurt Albert/Bernd Arnold/Norbert Batz/Peter Dittrich/Wolfgang Gullich, 1991: 1,300m: 36 pitches: 5.12d and A3: all but Batz reached the summit), on the east face of the Central Tower of Paine.

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