Sunday, 14 August 2011

Friends on the Frendo

Colin & Will climbing the

Last week I planned and agreed to go climb the ‘Frendo Spur’ on the North face of the Midi with a few friends of mine, Colin & Will. Colin is a great friend of mine who I’ve known since last year and has helped me out so much but this was actually the first big route we were going to climb together. Will is living in Chamonix for a month trying to get as much Alpine climbing done and the ‘Frendo’ was actually his first big alpine route, which is a great effort for his first season. I had done this route a few years ago so thought it would be good if I came along as I would have a rough idea of where to go. Well that’s if I could remember!

Me, Colin & Will enjoying the sunset.

I was up climbing a quick wee ice/shit gully of the Midi Bridge with Dave Searle, the day before I was going to climb the Frendo, which is a route and experience that neither of us want to talk or think about for a while! Basically it isn’t called ‘Shit Gully’ for nothing......!

Going lightweight on the gear!

So once I had finished climbing with Dave, I got the lift down to Chamonix and picked up a load of cosy bivvy kit. My sleeping bag, bivvy bag, down booties, expedition gloves! (which are siiiiiick!), oh and a load of munchies. This sounds like a lot of kit to carry but I was only having to carry it for 2mins from the Plan du Aiguille lift station to the bivvy site. With a big munch and chilling in the very fine sunset for a while before getting in our bags to settle down for the night until awaking to a very frosty chilly morning. A quick bit of porridge and then we all set of for the bottom of the route, along with a few other parties.

Loving the sunshine.

We all moved through the lower sections together, then Colin & Will decided to rope together while I climbed ahead to find the route and let them know what it’s like. This worked really well and we made it in good time, passing the crux to reach a small platform where you join the hanging glacier which is climbed to the crest of the ‘Frendo Spur’.

Once we reached the snow & ice I thought it would be best for me to take lead on the ropes and for Colin & Will to follow behind. This also worked well and we all climbed together up the spur and the ice field above. Some of the ice fields were covered in a crusty layer which broke away when struck. This gave the climbing a bit more excitement.

Party on the Spur!

Will psyched to be on the Frendo!

But the last 100 metres of the 1200 metre route was a section of absolute perfect ice. It’s a small gully that is shaded and gets a slight thaw-freeze to make it into that wonderful ‘plastic ice’ which all climbers adore. After this wee gully you top out by pulling over an edge to the sight of the Midi station and the mass of climbers going up & down the Arête.

Colin pleased topping out. 

Me bringing Will up.
I really enjoyed climbing this very fine and spectacular route again, and was also pleased to climb it with two good friends who I believe they were both pretty chuffed with themselves to have achieved this route that I know was both on their ‘tick-lists’.    

the three musketeers! 


  1. Well Done the three musketeers! Now go and play some tiddlywinks or golf and let your families sleep easy at nights ha! ha! Joking apart thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Linda Thornton (Colin's Mum)x

  2. Bonjour Monsieur Swinton,

    Title should have been "A Frendo Mine" Good effort though :)