It didn’t take long for life at Ceuse to get too hot and too easy… not that sport climbing is easy – it’s very hard – but it’s no stress, friendly, simple, non-committal… time for some alpine climbing. And when I say alpine climbing I mean high up, with as much effort spent on minimising use of spikey metal things. First up was a little two day mission with mountain guide and good friend of my Dad’s Steve Monks. Steve is a Brit, but he’s spent most of the last 20 years living in the sleepy town of Natimuck near Arapiles in winter and Switzerland in summer. When I went to Australia 3 years ago, Steve did the best he could to help us out, the same applied for my visit to Switzerland. Before I arrived he had a route in mind and we wasted no more than a day before getting up there.
The route is called ‘Ave Ceasar’ and it was put up by Didier Berthod. It’s on this really cool piece of rock called the Petit Clocher du Portalet. It has 2 pitches of 7c and a 7b+ with a sprinkling of 6c. The route was amazing, the rock perfect and the cracks painful. We gave it out best effort, but we failed to do the 7c pitches clean due to lack of: correctly sized cams, pain tolerance, ability to locate obvious jugs, ring lock for 40 metres, fitness, time, and the requisite granite skills.
The first 7c is a super sharp finger crack that peters out into half pad laybacking – or if your sensible enough you bust out right to a jug. The other 7c is a 20 metre pitch of ring locking, OK for 10 metres but gets pretty tiresome after 15. Our failings aside, it was a brilliant route and I would love to go back. I would also be quite interested to know about any one else trying it/freeing it… And there appears to be an amazing looking 80 metre-long finger size(ish) crack to the right that is meant to go at around 8a. So much to do!