The House Of Psyche

Although not as famed as the Alpine Binmen of the 80?s the house of psyche has up till now got a pretty impressive hit list going and they are still only in Feb. Read on for an account of three British mountaineers in Chamonix for the winter: A brief overview of the climbs done by one flat of people in Chamonix this winter, the household is myself (Kenton Cool), Andy Houseman and Nick Bullock. The climbing season started early in Chamonix this winter. Way back in November word was out that the Petite Jorasses was in good condition. With most of the lifts shut this was a good option, with numerous  easier routes in nick it wasn?t unusual to see a dozen or so people in the Leschaux  Hut. I kicked my season off with an ascent of the Baumont Smith (III 5+) with a client, finding good ice most of the way up. Later the same week we walked up to the Aiguille  du Chardonnet and climbed the super Escarra Route (III 4) again finding great ice conditions and a very easy descent (although a long walk back to the valley). There followed a little bit of a lull with more rock climbing than alpine stuff. December came and things all got a little hectic. I climbed the Chere (II 4) on the tacul, while Andy Houseman climbed the Perroux  (III 4+ 5b) the same day. This was followed by a dry German Gully (II 4) the next day, the week was rounded off with M6 Solar (III M5+) on Point Lachenal. Things now got a little meatier with the arrival of Nick Bullock in the house. I disappeared back to the Petite Jorasses with Neil McNab and made a rapid 5th ascent of Omega (IV 5+R M6 A1+), the legendary Gabarrou route had formed up with ice all the way and over the next few weeks got hammered by numerous parties. About the same time Houseman climbed Pinocchio (IV 6+) while Nick knocked off M6 Solar followed by Scotch on the Rocks (IV 7 Mixed) and then climbed the new line Temptation on Point Lachenal.Next up was Bullock and myself with a rare repeat of the Andy Parkin route Slave to the Rhythm (IV 6+). This was found to be a little loose but some great climbing, its a little strange why its been over shadowed by its neighbours. The day ended with both of us crawling up the Midi Arête in 100kph winds fearing for our lives, a fitting end to a memorable day out. The same day saw Houseman climb Omega with Neil Broadie. A few days rest (over Christmas) saw the house back in action with Bullock first climbing the Cosmiques Icefall (III 5) with the aging hippy Graham Desroy. He then got stuck into the Pinocchio while Houseman and I climbed Scotch on the Rocks.A period of poor weather saw Bullock disappear to Cogne for a few days ticking a number of classics including Repentance, the classic WI6 of the area. He then hit the mountains again with an ascent of L?Oeil au beurre noir (IV 5+). Then in early January there was a great day for British teams with Bullock and Matt Hellica climbing Scotch on the Rocks (yes 2nd time for Bullock), Jon Bracey and Twid Turner on Vol de Nuit (IV 8- M) and Dave Hessleden and myself on Pinocchio. For those who don?t know all these routes, they are right next to each other and provided a great day for all with lots of banter between all the teams. A period of Guiding saw me climb Modica Noury (III 5+) followed by a few days ticking Ice Routes in Cogne. Bullock teamed up with Houseman for an ascent of Pellissier Gully on Point Lachenal and then a few days later they went onto the South face of Mont Maudit. Country Couloir (IV 5) proved to be an excellent outing and now has a new mixed start. The photos of the top pitches looked fantastic but much steeper (90+degrees) than the guidebook claim of 70 degrees. Things at last settled down and some poor weather brought a much needed rest to worn out bodies. But as ever there is little rest for the wicked and the local dry tooling venues were hit with a vengeance while we waited for better conditions up high. Finally we got bored and I was lured out by Neil Broadie. Despite some nasty wind and freezing temperatures we managed to pull off an ascent of Brain Death and Bad Craziness (V 4M A1) on the Aiguille Du Plan, this proved to be a great day out with Neil pulling off a great lead to free the aid section. The weather again closed things down for a while until Bullock and Houseman were active again. Bullock this time doing a rare ascent of Fantasia per a Ghiacciatore (V 5+ 6a) while the same day Houseman climbed the Supercouloir (IV 5+ M6) going up and over the top in a fast time. I got back into action with another guided ascent of M6 Solar, while Houseman climbed it 3 times in a day for photos. Last week saw me in Cogne again guiding climbing ice for some 8 straight days. To bring things up to date Bullock knocked off Vol de nuit giving it a Scottish grade of VII 8. In between all this Alpine climbing we?ve been skiing, ice climbing, dry-tooling and rock climbing. The weather for the next week looks poor so it looks like some down time coming up. As I write this Houseman has gone to seek some ice out in Italy. I?m across to Grindlewald next week with Sir Ran Fiennes for the month with the hope to guide the N Face of the Eiger. Written by Kenton Cool an IFMGA Guide based in Chamonix Check out for details on how to book on climbing courses and private guiding with Kenton.