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~ Saturday 24th August 2013

 As a finale to a great week it's hard to beat the Dent de Tsalion west ridge - an Arolla classic. We had a pleasant morning rock climbing at the Chapel St Bartolémy crag near la Gouille - the Satarma crag is closed at the moment for rock stabilising work (and several routes will be a bit shorter when it reopens!) It's a short and pleasant 1.5 hour walk to the Tsa hut, where we enjoyed a HUGE meal on the terrace in the evening sun. 

From the hut the route is clearly visible, just an hour's walk on a bouldery track to the start. However, the West Ridge is developing a bit of a reputation - yes, it's short with only 600m height gain, low altitude, short approach, solid rock, etc, but there's really no easy ground on the route so 600m means a lot of climbing. At AD in the British guide I think it's a bit of a sandbag. The guidebook description isn't that helpfull anyway - "stay on the crest" would do. There are several "proper" grade 4 pitches low down, with a couple more high on the route (You can avoid some of the lower pitches by starting further right on broken and loose-ish ground) In response to a series of accidents and benightments the local guides added bolts to the hard bits a couple of years ago (keen blog readers may remember..."don't mention the bolts!") Lots of it is of course very protectable with a set of wires, slings and a couple of medium Friends. Lots of it is slabby and hard in big boots, so consider taking a pair of climbing shoes. 

Tsa shadows

Ah, the sun at last!

The final few metres

From the top of the Tsalion the Aiguille de la Tsa is temptingly close and you're going to walk past it on the way home anyway. A few pitches of nice climbing on good orange rock reaches this excellent summit, with fine views back down the Tsalion ridge as a reward - as well as the Matterhorn, Dent d'Hérens, Dent Blanche, Monta Rosa, Pigne, Cheilon, etc, etc...We left our 'sacks at the bottom, sadly with the camera attached, so no pictures. 

4x25m abseils reach the base, and a quick walk down the fairly crevassed glacier gains the Col de la Tsa. This is icy now, with a big bergschrund to catch fallers, so we made a big bollard and abseiled 25m down the ice. There were several recent Abalokov threads here - 2 of them pulled out by hand, so beware re-using old threads! All that remained was the long walk down the Bertol zig-zags. A great day.