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Sidarta Gallego working through one of the cruxes of L’equipe, L’equipe (6b+ WI5+ M7, 700m), Pico Occidental de la Cascada, Pyrenees, France. Simon Elias, Manuel Cordova and Javier Bueno established this direct line on March 14, and a number of other team members, including Gallego, developed variations over the following three days. [Photo] Jonatan Larranaga

A collection of talented young alpinists, led by Simon Elias and Mikel Zabala, spent a week in March assailing projects in the French Pyrenees. Between March 11 and 18 they established a number of long, respectable new lines.

On March 11 Manuel Cordova and Zabala climbed Ursi, a classic on the 700-meter north face of Pala de Ip, finding less ice than usual. The thin conditions bumped the grade to M7. On the same day, Sidarta Gallego and Elias completed Supergoulotte de Campane (ED+ M8, 180m), a longstanding project in the Pic du Campane. Its easy approach from the ski resort Tourmalet makes this new climb one of the best long and hard, accessible routes in the region.

A day of preparatory technical climbing on March 13 served the team well as Pyrenees’ projects continued to fall. The next day Elias teamed up with Cordova and Javier Bueno to climb Pico Occidental de la Cascada, a 700-meter waterfall, one of the area’s last virgin gems. Their sunrise start led up an enjoyable ice gully to the climb’s second section–an exposed, committing, sustained combination of rock, ice and mixed climbing that took nine hours to summit. They named it L’equip, L’equip (6b+ WI5+ M7, 700m). On the following day Miriam Framework and Aitor Abendano made the first repeat of L’equip, L’equip’s lower section, then ventured to the arete for an easier ridge finish. Both teams that climbed the waterfall were pleased with the experience: a long, exposed route on a tower 1400 meters above the Gavarnie valley.

The team proceeded to make a number of ascents and ski descents of Monte Perdido, and Elias, Cordova and Bueno roped up for another challenge: Ravier (6b, 6a A1 obl.) on the north face of Torre de Marbore. Heavy snow denied them the summit, but their spirits remained high. Tired but pleased with their performance, the team looks forward to their next trip, to the Alps, in the middle of April.

Source: Jonatan Larranaga