L'or du temps on Grand Capucin, Slovaks claim first free ascent
The report by 16-year-old Slovak climber Pavel Kratochvíl who on 27/08/2017 with Róbert Luby (21) and Martin Krasňanský (34) made the first free ascent of L'or du temps, the new route put up on Grand Capucin, Mont Blanc, by Nina Caprez and Arnaud Petit.
On our way to the French Alps, I was very psyched that I was finally going to visit the place I had heard so many stories of: legendary Chamonix with its monumental granite needles, steep and beautiful peaks and, last but not least, the splendid views onto the glacial valleys.
During the entire journey from Slovakia to France (approx. 15 hours by car) we tried to pick suitable areas and routes for our ten-day trip. Among the various routes mentioned, Martin pointed out L’or du Temps. Recently established by Nina Caprez and Arnaud Petit, this immediately caught our attention and we filed it into the group of routes we’d try if everything turned out well.
First of all, we were convinced that a thorough acclimatization at the Envers crag right above the Envers des Aiguilles Refuge (2532m) would be a good start to our Chamonix adventure. So with high expectations a day after arriving at Chamonix we headed to the local train station and took the train to the Mer de Glace station. During our three-day stay we climbed three easier routes (6c+, 7a+,7a+) in order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming adventure and get used to local rock structure.
After our trip to Envers and a rest day afterwards, we agreed it would be possible to at least try something harder and we opted for L’or du temps, since ours would probably be the first repeat. Despite not being entirely convinced that it was a good idea, due to the route’s difficulty and possible poor weather, we nevertheless moved on to our next destination.
We took the Monte Bianco Skyway cable car from the Italian side of Alps and continued on foot to the upper part of Mer de Glace and set up our little base camp below the impressive Grand Capucin. Shortly after a noon snack we decided to have a shot at the first half of the route, up to the crux pitch. We onsighted the easier pitches but unfortunately we didn’t have time to try the 8a pitch a second time after Robert’s unsuccessful onsight and my flash attempt. Martin was wise enough to save his flash attempt for better conditions and we rappelled down.
On D-day we got up a bit later because of bad weather in the morning, and started climbing at around half past nine. The lateness of the hour and the morning hail on the first pitches didn't stop us, and we quickly climbed through to the 5th (crux) pitch. We gave it our best and all three of us climbed it free first try, with me leading it, Martin then flashing it on lead, and Robert seconding it. With eight more pitches in front of us, we knew that the route was far from over. Apart from struggling on one 6c+ pitch, which needed a second go because of a slippery foothold, we managed to onsight the rest of the route and got to the top of Grand Capucin at 8 o’clock, just before sunset. Two hours of rappelling in the dark finally brought us safely to the ground. Although all this sums up into roughly 13 hours spent on this amazing wall, it was totally worth it!
Overall, we are completely satisfied with this perfect route choice and effort we put in. We got in touch with Nina Caprez shortly after our first free ascent and together we have agreed that the crux pitch is 7c+ and the second hardest pitch 7c.
We would like to thank Arnaud and Nina for having established this amazing route that follows a direct line up Grand Capucin’s steep and high quality granite, and look forward to more adventures in Chamonix!
TOPO: L'or du temps, Grand Capucin