Petit Dru, Les Droites & Grandes Jorasses, class mountaineering in the Mont Blanc massif
Good conditions in the Mont Blanc massif have enabled the French Groupe Militaire de haute montagne climbers to make three interesting repeats on Rhem-Vimal up Les Droites, Rolling Stones on Grandes Jorasses and Voie des guides on Petit Dru.
An intense tour de force towards the end of winter 2017 by a handful of alpinists belonging to the elite GMHM - Groupe Militaire de haute montagne Chamonix - has resulted in a hattrick of significant repeats in the Mont Blanc massif.
On 15 February Max Bonniot, Sébastien Ratel and Pierre Sancier climbed the Rhem-Vimal route up the North Face of Les Droites. First ascended in December 1992 and rarely repeated, the route initially follows the Colton - Brooks line (Nick Colton, Colin Brooks, 1977) before continue rightwards to finish up the Couzy-Salson route (J. Couzy, R. Salson, 1952). Freed by Eric Doiseau, Benjamin Guigonnet and Damien Tomasi on 16 and 17 March 2009, the recent French repeat is likely to be the first single day ascent.
From 13 - 15 March Bonniot teamed up with Leo Billon and Pierre Labbre to reapeat the famous Rolling Stones up the north face of the Grandes Jorasses. Established in 1979 by Czech mountaineers Thomas Prochaska, Jroslav Rutil, Ludek Schlechta and Jiri Svejda, the route was freed in 2014 by the Slovenias Luka Krajnc and Luka Lindic. The Frenchmen climbed the crux M8 pitch free, but not the 24th and 25th pitch(M7+ and M7) because, as they explained, "maybe we were not on the exact line of the free ascent. We consider it a dangerous - read poor rock - but interesting route up a great line…"
During those same days Sebastien Ratel and Jérôme Para headed up the famous Voie des Guides on the North Face of Petit Dru, a sort of direttissima established during seven days in winter 1967 by Michel Feuillarade, Claude Jager, Jean-Paul Paris and Yannick Seigneur. According to Ratel and Para this route is is "one of the best hard routes in the range, up beautiful rock, easy to protect, very steep and quite hard." Their final words are perhaps just as interesting "The route is waiting for its first free ascent!"
Rolling Stones - Grandes Jorasses
Rhem - Vimal - Les Droites