Mt. Maudit new mixed climb by Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey
British alpinists Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey have climbed Zephyr, a possible new mixed climb up the East Face of Mt. Maudit in the Mont Blanc Massif.
Setting off early on the 13th of March from the Aiguille du Midi station Helliker and Bracey skied up into Cirque Maudit. Helliker had identified the mixed line between Filo d’Arianna and Grassi - Meneghin a while ago but only now did conditions look adequate: the lower buttress had enough snow to be mixed climbed while the upper pillar was dry enough to be rock climbed.
Helliker explained "The lower pillar was climbed up icy cracks and corners giving some great mixed climbing before crossing a snowfield and some unsettling snowed-up slabs to belay at the base of the upper pillar. The sun was still warming and the winds were calm due to climbing on the lee side of the forecasted prevailing 65 Km/h north winds, meaning that gloves off rock climbing was possible."
This idyllic situation was soon to change though, as Helliker recounts "As the sun dipped in behind the East Face, the strong cold north winds found its way round onto the face, making the remaining excellent rock climbing pitches brutality cold." After much gloves on, gloves off, gloves on, re heats and total body shakes the alpinists topped out on the pillar.
According to the climbers, all research seems to point to this as a first ascent and, should this be confirmed, then the route has been named Zephyr ( M5+, 6b, 400m. It marks an excellent season for the two Brits, who recently established Mastabas (M7, 250m) up the NE Face of the Pyramide du Tacul after having added two new lines on the Tour Ronde in December 2014 and January 2015.
Matt Helliker: Patagonia, Black Diamond, Osprey Packs, S.C.A.R.P.A., Adidas Eyewear, Edelweiss ropes, MaxiNutrition.
Jon Bracey: Patagonia, Black Diamond, Osprey Packs, S.C.A.R.P.A., Adidas Eyewear, Edelweiss ropes.