Siebe Vanhee | Gran Capuchi Style!
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Gran Capuchi Style!

Gran Capuchi Style!

At six o clock in the morning I woke up in the middle of a glacier with the sun on our tent and I heard a Spanish guy screaming: ‘Capuchio…, Capuchio…, Capuchio!’. I couldn’t sleep anymore because of the thought the Spanish guy was drinking an amazing cappuccino in the sun. Two days later I realised he was just excited to go climbing on one of the best granite peaks in Europe!
And yes indeed… summer is coming! We have to climb! It’s been a long time since my last blog post. I got plenty of good reasons. In June I had like every other student some exams to study. For me the exam period is a period I enjoy because of the daily rhythm and structure. Studying about 8 hours a day followed by some training in gym I try to get good results in school and focus on getting stronger for the summer. I can proudly say I finished my first year studying social work with some good results. I proved now to myself that I can combine my study’s with a lot of climbing and travelling. This is reassuring for the following years. 
Getting in to it…
After my last exam I left towards Chamonix and Switzerland where I climbed a little bit of everything. First of all I had to recover a little from the training and studying. In Chamonix I met up with Sean, Nico and Stéphane. Because of the insecure weather in Chamonix we left towards Petit Clocher du Portalet where we climbed for about three days. We split teams and did some of the classic lines. The first day I climbed together with Stéphane, we did the most famous line in the Petit Clocher du Portalet, état de choc (7b) six pitches. One of the pitches that I led was an easy offwidth with one wider part. In the wide part I made the mistake to crawl completely inside the offwidth. Similar scenario as two years ago in ‘the harding slot’ of the famous route Astroman in Yosemite I got stuck with my head out of the crack. Again I had to take off my helmet to get out of it. Nasty, those small offwidth’s.
A view in the tent of ‘Le dent du Géant’
It felt nice to climb on granite again, the jamming technique is still in my body but placing my feed on tiny crystals I had to relearn. The start of the summer made me realise I want to climb a lot of granite and multipitch. It’s time to get more experienced in multipitch climbing in the mountains. The whole game of combining hard crackclimbing in long days with mountain conditions, snow and ice is attracting me. The first time I did this kind of climbing was in the Bugaboos, Canada. I feel it’s time to try it again. Right now I’m in Chamonix together with Tim De Dobbeleer and we are both motivated to climb and crush big and long routes on the Mont Blanc massif. The climbs and atmosphere with Tim were amazing and I have the feeling some cool projects are going down soon! 
Gran Capuchi Crushing…
During one month, Tim and I are going to climb some mountain cracks together! The first days of our trip our eye fell on Chamonix and more specific the ‘Gran Capucin’. This last one is one of the cleanest rock peaks of the Mont Blanc. We got information about the weather at the mountain guide office in Chamonix and bham, like the Frenchies will say: ‘grand beau’ for four days in a row! 
As two luxury dirtbags like we are, we looked for a free (and dry) place to stay in the valley of Chamonix. Good news, we found an empty carport out of wood that we claimed as our little house. In about 5 minutes all the gear that was nice and packed in the car, was hanging and laying all over the carport. Preparing all the food, organising the gear and making plans of which routes we wanted to do we made our heavy bags for the next five days to come.
In the evening we hiked in two hours from Aguille du Midi towards the base of Gran Capucin where we pitched our tent in de middle of the glacier. This was amazing, I love the clean snow that stretches out for about 2 km around us. The snowfields end in some snow couloirs leading towards big granite peaks. A dream campsite I would say. With pots and pans we dug a whole in the snow to put our big 4-person hotel down. Luxury boys. 
The next day the climbing started, but not like we expected. We wanted to climb ‘Elixir D’astaroth’  (in Dutch we had fun saying: ‘Elixir d’a strot!’). I guess we finally climbed Elixir but after some epic search on the wall. From the fourth pitch on we got lost. Gran Capucin has so many lines, so many possible lines and so many ankers and pitons that we missed the right line a couple of times. Doing pendulums, huge traverses and climbing some pitches more then ones (up and down) we reached the top at 10 pm. Pretty late for a 14 pitch climb that should be all right. This was the first day Tim and I climbed together and it was hilarious, we looked like two analphabetic children in their playground! Although we were slow and often confused we had a great first day and the teamwork and spirit reached a high level.
The following day we were up for some short but a little harder route. We climbed ‘Les Intouchables’ (7b+) of six pitches. Like the French film, Les Intouchables as a route on Trident is amazing! The 5th pitch is a perfect slightly overhanging hand crack of 40 meters! Amazing, just put you on mode train and crack climbing is easy (exaggerated). The rest of the route wasn’t easy either, a start pitch 7b woke us up, leading into an amazing 6c finger crack with perfect locks! Followed by a long thin 7a pitch where a lot of technique is required. When the second day was over Tim couldn’t stop talking about the free can ravioli we got that morning of some German guys who left the glacier. Although we carried up fresh veggie’s Tim fancied the can. I still don’t now if he liked the can more just because it’s ravioli or because he kicks on ‘free’ food.
On top of the airy block of the Trident du Tacul after climbing ‘Les Intouchables’!
I’ve always been a morning person. I love mornings. I love food the most in the morning. I like climbing in the morning more. I don’t mind waking up and getting ready for the day. Tim though is more of an active evening guy. When I’m melting the snow at 5:30 in the morning to make porridge he snores slowly a little bit more. But when I’m wracked of jamming whole day long, he melts some snow for the polenta and beans dinner. This made a good team.  Wracked but motivated we started our third day in the classical 14 pitch route in Gran Capucin, ‘Voyage selon Guilliver’ (7a). This time we where informed better and we decided not to get lost, it worked. We didn’t get lost and climbed the route smoothly to the top. That day we were down early and enjoyed the sun next to the tent, joked around, ate and reinforced our hotel. Because of the melting snow every day our tent quickly lost its tension. Like I said earlier, it was ‘grand beau’ time. I new it could be very hot in the mountains but I didn’t expect us melting on the granite and even in the snow. The conditions were great!
Tim dancing up the last pitch of Les Intouchables
Me in Bridwell Crack!
One more day at work we left for a 6 pitch climb called ‘Bridwell Crack’ (7b+) on the petit clocher left of Gran Capucin. The route starts at the top of a snow couloirs. Hiking up the steep couloirs was scary with the melting snow above, snowfall was possible every moment so we had to hike fast. Once started in the route we realised it could be harder as expected. The pitch before the crux pitch was an amazing 7a roof traverse with slopy feet and a tricky move at the end. The crux pitch it self was amazing, again a perfect vertical crack with amazing fingerlocks, ringlocks and handjams. Also on this fourth day we realised to onside and free climb every pitch we tried. 
Ma dalton, We’ll be back!

The next morning it felt like the Frenchies took there snowplows up to the mountains and started driving over our tent that night. We were wracked from climbing. That morning we took away our hotel and hiked back with the heavy bags over the glaciers towards Aguille du Midi. Passing the Aguille du Midi our eye fell on this amazing roof crack, Ma Dalton (7c). We paid a lot of money to take the lift from Chamonix to Aguille du Midi up and we wanted to get the money out of it so we still tried Ma Dalton. But on that fifth day we could feel the four long days of climbing in our body’s and brains. Tired I made my way up in the roof needing to figure out some of the methods. Tim did the same thing where after we decided we had our dose climbing and it was time for some almond croissants! 

Those five nights and days up in the mountains were amazing. I’m excited for the next few weeks to climb some harder, longer, scarier and even better lines at an altitude of 3800 meter. We have more objectives! If they are going to be done all at the end of the month I don’t know but we’re f*cking motivated to go for it all!

Check also Tim’s blogpost on Mountcoach.

Tired on top of our first day epic search ascent of Elixir.
Ready to crush!!!
Me following Tim on the perfect 7b handcrack of Les Intouchables.
M. Jackson is a life high in the mountains, we’ve seen him!

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