Welfringer, Livingstone Send Formidable New Route in Alps

Tom Livingstone and Symon Welfringer have completed a first ascent of a tough new line on Chamonix’s Mont Blanc Massif.

The route, which they named La Croisade, climbs up the north face of Aiguille des Pélerins (3,318m) and involves mixed climbing on ice and granite. It begins in the same place as the classic mixed route Beyond Good And Evil before reaching a daunting roof.

Welfringer saw the potential of La Croisade while climbing Beyond Good and Evil back in 2019, he said on Instagram. The roof had been tried before by Xavier Cailhol and Jeff Mercier, but they ultimately went around it, establishing a route called Les Flammes de l’enfer. 


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Una publicación compartida por Symon Welfringer (@symon9v)


Livingstone and Welfringer tackled La Croisade over two days, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. The pair climbed three sustained M7 pitches on Les Flammes de l’enfer, then spent the night in the Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille.

The following day, they returned to their high point, sent a pitch of M7 climbing, and began testing the roof. Livingstone aided his way through the steep crack, then Welfringer tried to free it. Unfortunately, the crack proved too strenuous, with Welfinger estimating a grade of M9 or even M10.

Speaking to ExplorersWeb from France on Friday, Livingstone said he’d like to return at some point for a free-climb attempt.

“The crux pitch was certainly an awkward size and awkward pitch to climb in winter,” Livingstone said. “Because of the steepness and the size of the crack, it didn’t lend itself well to axes.”

symon welfringer ice climbing on Mont Blanc Massif

Symon Welfringer climbing on ‘La Croisade’ on the Mont Blanc Massif. Photo: Tom Livingstone


In total, La Croisade offers 600m of climbing to the summit ridge, and it’s graded at V+ M7+ A2 5+.

It’s just the latest accomplishment in a busy year for Livingstone, who has ticked off about six major alpine routes this season.

“The Mont Blanc Massif gives a great mix of accessible alpine cragging and some very famous and historic big alpine routes. So it’s got a bit of everything,” Livingstone said. “It’s a very good climbing venue in its own right…but also great for preparing for other adventures around the world.”

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.