words by Rob Powell
pic by Daniel Pobega
My Four-Leaf Clover
I’m shivering uncontrollably. The wind pierces us like a surgeon’s scalpel. ‘Should I make the call?’ Paul is loathed to say yes, but in the end, we have to swallow our pride. ‘Hello PGHM, we’re in a spot of bother’
The Gervasutti Pillar is a tall, elegant and long pillar of perfect red granite on the east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. It is one of the most famous and sought-after climbs in the Mont Blanc range. The route rises 900 vertical metres and the length of the route is considerably longer. Whichever way you slice it, it’s a big day out. The route is long, exposed, with complex route finding, and difficult to retreat from. And the descent is exciting to say the least. So, what are you waiting for?
It’s fair to say I have had a turbulent relationship with the Gervasutti Pillar.
A good weather forecast for the following two days resulted in some rather frantic driving down the French motorways. Having survived the drive, we screeched into Chamonix at noon. I pulled up into the parking where Jeremy [Colenso] was waiting for me, already kitted up in high alpine gear.
The weather was sweltering with 30 plus Celsius in the ‘valley’, and Jeremy patiently sweated away while I got ready. One hour later, we were on the ‘Midi’ heading skyward.
Due to our late start, we opted for a bivvy strategy. I knew there were some ledge systems about a third of the way up the route. We planned to bivvy there and finish the route the following day.
From the top of the Aiguille du Midi, it’s a downhill snow plod for 45 minutes and then some uphill to the base of the route.
‘Bloody hell, look at the size of this crevasse!’ Due to the warm summer, the crevasses had opened up, making the last uphill section of the approach quite treacherous.