Philippe Batoux and Lionel Daudet have climbed a new route, “Little Big Men” (A3, 6a, M5), on the wild and grandiose East Face of the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc range.
The two Frenchmen set off on 14 March up a line which runs between the classic Gervasutti and Groucho Marx (first ascended by Cristiano and Fabio Delisi in 1983). They first overcame Goulottes des hirondelles (350m III M5+) and then continued up the east face proper up mixed terrain (250m M6 A1) which led to the immense granite face (320m A3 M5 6a) and the summit via a final 200m of delicate mixed climbing graded M2.
Little Big Men is an immense route which measures 750m in length (plus the initial 200m goulotte). After the third pitch it shares two and a half pitches with "Groucho Marx", and this solution enabled the two climbers to reach the crack system above: the alternative would have been to drill holes in the rock…
Batoux and Daudet climbed capsule style and installed a camp at the base of the great overhanging wall which represented the the heart and the crux of the route. This allowed them to avoid the arduous task of packing and hauling a portaledge, and at the end of each day they abseiled down to the camp along their line of static ropes.
After a nine day battle against the route, poor weather and abundant snowfalls the duo completed their "Little Big Men" or, put in other words, the route they dedicated to two mountaineers, small in size, but great in stature: JC Lafaille who died on Makalu this winter, and Damien Charignon who died in an avalanche at Serre Chevallier on 13 March. A great tribute for a great route!
Grandes Jorasses (Mont Blanc) - East Face
Little Big Men (dedicated to JC Lafaille and Damien Charignon)
F.A.: Philippe Batoux and Lionel Daudet from 14 to 23/03/2006
Grade: A3 - 6a - M5
The route: Goulotte des hirondelles: 350m III M5+; lower section of ice: 250m M6 A1; rock: 320m A3 M5 6a; mixed upper section: 200m M2
Photo: the East Face of the Grandes Jorasses with the route line "Little Big Men" (arch. Batoux)