La Nuit Blanche - WI 6 - First all female ascent

La Nuit Blanche - WI 6 - First all female ascent

La Nuit Blanche - WI 6 - First all female ascent
17 January 2011

Last week two female ice climbers very much stole victory from the jaws of defeat with a fast and very surprising ascent of the infamous Nuit Blanche on the Argentière glacier, Chamonix. The route, grade WI 6, is 110m. long, and involves gnarly overhanging pitches at an altitude of 1900m.

Cecilia is one of Spain's most consistent and successful female expedition climbers. To sum her up her favourite playground is Patagonia - in Winter!

Her journey to ascend La Nuit Blanche was a characteristic long and hard fought one. Cecilia is a good friend of mine. We climb ice together whenever she comes to visit us here in Vallouise and she likes the routes here because they are often in condition when others elsewhere in the Alps often aren't. But on this occasion the differences were really spectacular!

She arrived at ours in early January together with her very patient partner Juan Goyanes primed for some typically gnarly Ecrins Ice. After repeating a few classic extremes the hot Spanish couple were off on a 2 week road trip visiting Europe's best ice climbing venues. But conditions were worse than rubbish wherever she went. Kandersteg in Switzerland- waterfalls - wet ones!; Brandnertal in Switzerland - in Cecilia's words "terrible"!; Kaunertal in Austria - one good route climbed - "Grottendach"; Pitztal, Austria - "raining all the time"; Germany - "Everything was green - nothing was in condition!"; Courmeyeur, Italy - no good!; Aosta Valley - Mission Impossible and the Haston Cave - mixed was okay, but not much difficult ice!

And then Cecilia arrived in Chamonix. There she teamed up with Italian Ice Competition ace Anna Torretta. That was the good news. The bad was that all the locals said the ice was rubbish and not even worth the 15 minute trek up from the Lognan Station. Cecilia is made of sterner stuff however, and so convinced her team that it was worth a look. Anna and Cecilia soon found themselves all alone at the base of the Blanche and miraculously it was in nick - just!

Three hours later La Nuit Blanche was in the bag - arguably France's most famous extreme pure ice route, yet first put up by resident Brit Stevie Haston in 1994. Conditions on the day both girls felt were good - the ice was dry, albeit a bit brittle in places, but in general it was "fat"! Despite the fact that the rest of Chamonix thought it wasn't!

So that's the scoop. You can catch all the action and a top class video on youtube here:

And here is Cecilia's web site:

And the final comment I will leave you with was Cecilia's, once back in the Ecrins after visiting most of Europe's top spots - "You know conditions here are as good as anywhere". Yesssss! Muchas gracias Cecilia!
Jerry Gore


Chalet accommodation in the Southern French Alps