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Monday 18th 08 2008 12:00:00 AM

Pictures by Andy Main and words by Neil Mackenzie

No climbers on the Cosmiques?!

IMG_0651 cos arete copy

And so, a week into our trip, it was time to try to get a route done! This required a change of tactics, we bought a multi-day lift pass and vowed to climb shorter routes within range of lift stations. And there it was, the most famous motorway in the alps; The Cosmiques Arete – a true classic!

IMG_0489 tom andy and neil at the midi mid sation copyIMG_0491 midi an dthe frendo spur copyIMG_0526 the tunnel copy

With our campsite neighbours (and later the kind benefactors of 5 boxes of tea, 8 jars of marmalade and 16 half full gas canisters) Pete and Andy we set off for a lunch time start (after Andy had been sick all night with food poisoning), muttering about how slushy the famous Midi snow aręte was in the full heat of the mid-day sun. But our cunningness paid off – everyone who started at the normal time was waiting in a big queue at the short pitched section near the end and we had the rest of the route to ourselves!
IMG_0494 tom and andy on the start of cos aete copy IMG_0496 neil on cos arete copy
Thus, in two ropes of two, we simul-climbed up the snow gulley, traversed the initial pinnacles and enjoyed the splendour of the views without another climber in sight! Once at the abseil, we had a chance to get a bite to eat (or, in Andy’s case, a series of voluminous belches!) as Andy and Pete descended, we then followed and due to their weak route finding and our blind following we think we ended up too low! Clearly many another climber had done the same, and a ledge was soon found leading back to the last pinnacle, which should have been surmounted but looked easier to skirt so that we did. tom and andy on the cos Panorama1

This took us to the crux pitch for which we un-coiled and set up a belay.
In true French tradition there was both a point of aid and numerous carved crampon holds, the later of which were very useful, the former would be a sin to use given that it awesome move of about 3c!

IMG_0514 tom on the pitching section of cos arete  copy

But a tasty move none-the-less, at around 3700m altitude and with the Col du Midi dropping away far below, the heave up a crack into a chimney system brought us back to easier ground. This was then simul-climbed and an alternative technical finish gave the most enjoyable climbing of the route accompanied by the snapping and flashes of the rock star reception we were given by the hordes of tourists!
IMG_0506 view donw to cham of the cos arete copy IMG_0523 col de midi camp site copy
A great route, just a shame it wasn’t longer…. But it had the feel of an afternoons cragging in an immense setting and we were pleased to get our first route under our belts! This was until we realized we hadn’t finished; another crazy alpine ladder, half tethered to the rock and almost rusted through had to be conquered to gain the lift station - scary stuff!!

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