January 23rd, 2013

Clearly visible from home, the west face of the Parmelan is not lit by sunrays until late in the day. We reach the bottom of the face, and we spot a line which seems feasible. After some consultation on which direction to take, we agree on a route.

Right from the start, placing protections proves difficult and a small fir tree which sits right at the end of an overhang grants my immediate fall, bang in the middle of the first pitch. Perspiration and overheating are granted!

Kevin follows along a wide crack which opens onto a big snow cap. The blink of an eye and I see him disappear under the snow which falls over him: luckily, the fright will be bigger than the actual ache. In the third and last pitch, I set off along a big, flat slide, strewn with some slabs and other plant cracks. All in all a fabulous section.

I am obliged to share my ice-axes with Kevin to let him use one of the adzes, and inherit his ice-axe which is elbow-shaped, like a « Scud », and whose spike is as sharp as a roller skate. The outcome: a micro stopper, plastered to the ice-axe, comes off and I fall head-down, stopping 20 cm. from the ground!

We pause shortly in the powdery snow before making a new start: this time we climb 55 m. of mixed terrain of exceptional quality. A marvellous pitch, not so easy to protect with pitons, runners and nuts. On the whole, three very nice pitches, which burnt our forearms and gave us some « Parmesan ice-cream », the local dessert, to be consumed without moderation.

Topo First ascent on the west face of the Parmelan / Janvier 2013