Mont Blanc de Cheilon

~ Monday 25th July 2011

 The unsettled weather continues, and it's cold too. It was snowing as we left the car in Arolla on Monday, and -6 at the Dix hut this morning. As well as unsettled the weather is very localised - very little snow at the Dix but apparently 30cm at Vignettes. 

We set off for the traverse of Mont Blanc de Cheilon, choosing to start up the normal route and do a "reverse traverse". This is climbable dry or in crampons if snowy...and it was. Worth mentioning the serac fall on the normal route too. This looked innocuous last week but collapsed at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, right across the upper snow section of the normal route. We avoided it completely by steeper snow on the right, and from above it still looks unstable. There's a big crack up and left. 

The summit ridge was snowy and climbed in crampons - but was dry 3 weeks ago. Descending from the summit is quite tricky at first but soon easily down climbable. Reaching the east summit we were very glad we'd chosen to go this way - there's a lot of soft snow which would have been hard to climb up.

Summit ridge with serac fall visible behind

Down climb from the summit

The descent from the Serpentine col was calf deep, untracked (amazingly no-one has traversed the Pigne d'Arolla) and quite crevassed... 

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