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Olivier Colay climbing El Chico, Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc
Photo by Enrico Bonino
Enrico Bonino climbing El Chico, Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc
Photo by Enrico Bonino
Enrico Bonino climbing El Chico, Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc
Photo by Enrico Bonino
The route line of El Chico, Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc
Photo by Enrico Bonino

El Chico, Dry tooling enchainment by Bonino and Colay up Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc

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Alpinism: on 7/12/2016 Enrico Bonino and Olivier Colay made a dry-tooling reinterpretation of the routes Pinelli-Sabbadini, Lenoir and Ottoz, to forge El Chico (M6+ 4° 250m) on Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc massif.

During this winter that acts like spring it’s not easy to find ice. So instead, I’ve decided to rediscover some old rock routes that had fallen into disuse because of the retreating glaciers, and perhaps because of their difficulties that tend not to be continuous. These old summer climbs though are ideal winter dry tooling outings, excellent training for more demanding routes elsewhere. Hence "El Chico" ascends the NNE Face of Pyramide Du Tacul and combines the routes "Pinelli-Sabbadini" and "Lenoir" to finish up the last pitch of the classic "Ottoz" route.

After a long wait, Olly and I finally managed to enjoy two days of good weather in the high mountains. This time I’d promised we’d use our ice axes and celebrate the start of winter. Not that I mind climbing by the sea, but it had begun to get a bit frustrating when every time we planned to do something, the weather suddenly changed the day before, forcing us to retreat to limestone crags and the bar. After so many years climbing together Olly trusted me completely and the only information he had for the two days was what gear he had to take... the weather did us a favor and we put our time up in the mountains to good use.

On day one we headed towards Pyramide Du Tacul to try a new line I’d noticed a while ago. Although we were faced with the unknown, thanks to our knowledge of the terrain and an attentive study of the guidebooks our optimism was high. Once again, Vallée Blanche seemed to be almost entirely ours, just a few souls in sight, mostly rock climbing, some heading to Valeria. We stopped on a small icy hillock in the middle of a huge crevassed area at the base of the peak and geared up. As usually crossing the Bergschrund held some surprises in store, but it turned out to be better than expected. We started upwards!

I find it really interesting and instructive to establish a new route with my clients. You're faced with an unknown situation, on unfamiliar terrain, you have to progress rapidly and often having to build belaus. In just a few hours you're faced with pratically every situation that a beginner may encounter on any route he or she doesn't know, made all the more difficult by the fact that there's no topo to go by. Showing how to deal with these situations safely, with the right approach, teaches a lot.

Having taken the first cable car, we reached the summit of the Pyramide at dusk as the days are currently short. But the trudge back to Rifugio Torino was richly rewarded by the enchanting panorama: a starry night, as bright as day thanks to the half moon that accompanied our steps. We were welcomed by Mauro, Catrin, Rebecca and Lori with a hearty dinner well after closing time. On the next day the program changed somewhat, we headed to the classic Entreves Ridge for some short-roping technique as Olly took the lead.

So another two days ended in the best way possible. Bravo Olly, what a great way to celebrate a return to the mountains after six months absence. We now hope for spring to finally come to an end and for winter to come and steer us towards other adventures.

Happy and safe climbing

Enrico Bonino (Mountain Guide)


TOPO: El Chico, Pyramide Du Tacul, Mont Blanc


RELATED NEWS
27/10/2016 - Aiguille d'Entrèves and the climb Cocktail entr'Eve et Salluard. By Enrico Bonino
Enrico Bonino talks about a modern interpretation of the Salluard climbs (plus variations) up the West Face of Aguille d'Entrèves in the Mont Blanc massif. The route was climbed in two stages, on 20/10/2016 by Enrico Bonino and Andrea Racchelli, and completed on 22/10/2016 by Bonino together with Ilaria Sonatore and Marco Ghisio.

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