A Winter Repeat of Mont Blanc’s Legendary Freney Central Pillar

It was probably a normal Valentine’s Day for alpinist Giuseppe Vidoni: descending Mont Blanc with a climbing buddy and waxing nostalgic about friendship.

“Now from the bottom of the valley we will look at it with different eyes, remembering these beautiful days of mountaineering,” Vidoni wrote for Planet Mountain.

That’s the final sentence of Vidoni’s account of climbing Mont Blanc’s Pilone Centrale del Frêney, via the classic route set by Chris Bonington.

How romantic, no?

Vidoni spent three days on the mountain with climbing partner Richard Tiraboschi, reaching the summit on Feb. 13, followed by a night in Vallot Hut refuge and descent the next day.

They completed most of the climb in a single, 13-hour push, Vidoni said on Instagram, arriving at the peak in time for an “unforgettable sunset.”


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Una publicación compartida por Richard Tiraboschi (@rickhard47)

The climb itself offered excellent conditions. Upon reaching the Chandelle, the “steepest and most difficult part” of the route, the pair progressed well with warmer-than-normal temperatures punctuated by the crisp, winter air at 4,500m.

“The pitons present gave us a big hand and in about three hours we are at the top of the Pylon,” Vidoni wrote for Planet Mountain. “As usual in winter, the cold snow at 4,700m is swept away by the wind leaving bare ice…From Mont Blanc of Courmayeur to the top of Mont Blanc being tired and having to be careful about how to progress, we take longer than expected…With the sunset, we reach the top of Mont Blanc. Always nice to be up here! Especially if alone!”


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Una publicación compartida por Giuseppe Vidoni (@bepividoni)

A busy winter in the Alps

It’s been an exciting climbing season in the Alps this year, with an impressive number of first ascents and first solos, the UK’s Alpine Club wrote.

In the article’s highlights, Vidoni received recognition for establishing a new route on the Grandes Jorasses — no small feat for one of the most popular mountains in the Alps.

On their second attempt, Vidoni, Tirabosi, and Tommaso Vection sent the route in late January, dubbing it Happy Birthday. The line ascends the Aiguille de l’Évêque, a 3,258m south-facing flank of the Grandes Jorasses.

“To find out [if a route is possible], sometimes you just have to go and see. And so we did,” Vidoni wrote on Instagram.

But Vidoni’s not the only climber to explore new territory in the Alps this season. Jerome Perruquet and Stefano Stradelli made the first repeat and first winter ascent of Diretta allo Scudo on the Matterhorn. And in October, Francois Cazzanelli and Jerome Perruquet climbed a new rock-and-ice route on the North Face of the Central Breithorn (4,160m), right on the Italian-Swiss border.

And the season’s not over yet, folks, so keep your eyes on the rope.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.