Mont Blanc: Steep New M7 Direct Line

Most alpinists on Mont Blanc don’t seek out terrain as steep as the walls at the bouldering gym for one specific reason: It’s pretty easy to fall off.

Christophe Dumarest and Tom Livingstone shook off the exposure on their recent Mont Blanc Massif testpiece, Changing Corners (M7, 250m). The route’s crux negotiates wildly overhanging terrain, where protection looks meager at best.

Dumarest reported that he’d spotted the steep dihedral on the North Face of Pointe Adolphe Rey (3,536m) years ago. And he saw a facile crack system that seemed to lead directly up the wall toward it. But until Livingstone agreed to join him on January 25, he had never had the opportunity to scout it.

‘Changing Corners’ crux puts up a fight

The team spent the better part of the day on the route’s lower pitches, climbing sustained M6 terrain toward the overhung corner.

 

When Dumarest started up the feature, the lead gave him all he could handle.

“It was late in the afternoon when we reached the base of a beautiful corner,” he told Planet Mountain. “It was my turn to take the lead. What followed was a small war of attrition on this aesthetic 40m corner close to the summit. For what felt like hours, I battled hard against falling out of this ‘open book,’ a bit like a swimmer trying to keep his head above the water. It was a true moment of determination to climb this pitch free!”

‘Whatever conditions’

The team appears to have pounced on a coincidence of good timing to climb the Mont Blanc route — they hadn’t planned it until the day before. Thus, they committed themselves to whatever conditions they found on the route — in this case, little or no ice.

Mixed route on Mont Blanc

Marginal purchase for crampons and axes. Photo: Dumarest

 

Dumarest noted that he hoped future Changing Corners climbers will find more purchase for their tools and crampons.

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.


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