A Winter of New Ice Routes Ends With One Last Surprise Send

Cutting-edge climbers in the Alps have a habit of looking around while ski touring, in case they spot thin lines of ice everyone else has overlooked. Sometimes, the novelty is in full sight on popular spots but passes unnoticed by all but expert eyes.

That was the case recently when Bertrand Delapierre saw a potential new route on the Envers des Aiguilles (Mont Blanc massif) as he skied down the hyper-visited Valle Blanche above Chamonix.

Delapierre notified Mathieu Maynadier and the Ladevan brothers, Louna and Tristan. They went for it a few days later, with Delapierre hanging back on this occasion to take the photos.

Luckily, the line was still there. It followed a narrow gully on the SE face of the l’Envers des Aiguilles, also known as II Pointe de Nantillons.

The result was a 400m line that the climbers named the Syndrome de l’oubli (Syndrome of forgetfulness) and graded 5/M7.

They found the first two pitches exceptionally difficult because of the conditions. This was “followed by an easier part and then really amazing, sustained, and steep mixed climbing to the top,” the brothers reported. They believe that the line had likely been done in summer as a rock climb, but not as an ice climb.

That particular face has seen other new routes recently opened, PlanetMountain reported. These include the Hypnotic Lain by Oliver Gajewski and Santiago Padros, and Sorterriko Koblak by Alain Andres and Garo Azkue.

Ready for further projects

Since then, rising temperatures have forced the climbers to forget about ice routes and turn to high-difficulty classics, such as the M7+ E-Logik. This time, Bertrand Delapierre also joined the fun.

Then the Ladevand brothers — who won the gold and bronze medals at the 2022 ice-climbing World Championships — sent Sanction style, also with Delapierre. It is considered the hardest route on the Blade Stadium crag in Argentiere, graded an M9. “What better training for north faces!” they wrote afterward.

Maynadier has also made the most out of the winter season, with a number of new alpine routes. Last week, he combined hard dry-tooling and mixed routes with paragliding descents. He’ll likely use this training in the Greater Ranges soon, as he did on Meru South (Garhwal Himalaya) last year.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.