August 2007 found Tony and Ali back in the Alps and the attempt on the Monster Wall.
The weather was settled for several days and they decided to make the Monster Wall their first objective. Accompanied by friends Nick Gillett and Gavin Cytlau they set off in the early hours driving up the Val Ferret and beginning the long slog uphill to the base of the Pra Sec glacier.
The glacier was impassable, crevassed and susceptible to avalanche; it was decided to take a more circuitous route into the area via a steep, grassy slope above the glacier. The going was tough; all 4 had heavy packs stuffed with bivouac gear and hardware for 2 racks, not to mention enough water and food for 3 days. Soloing 100’ above the glacier on loose vegetated rock took its toll, and Ali was the first to crack suggesting that they roped up. It was hard work, clutching handfuls of grass, hoping their feet wouldn’t slip or their heavy packs knock them off. A 1,000’ later and they actually achieved solid rock, coming out above their intended first pitch. Searching for a bivvy site it was decided it was too late in the day to begin the route and they settled down for the night.
Up at 6 the following morning, they were on the route by 8. Climbing in two pairs, Tony searched out the way up the 2000’ face. The first few pitches were straightforward and they were able to climb together for 400’ saving a lot of time and effort. The crux pitch was awesome, a chimney, groove system that no-one climbed the same, but everyone found very strenuous and gooey. An easy bowl was to follow, and then a series of crack pitches that got gradually harder. A final slanting crack took Tony and Ali to the ridge and the end of the climb at pitch 11. It took 9 abseils to get back down to the bivvy site, taking some 3 hours. Scratching out cracks for nuts and pegs in the rock to find safe belays proved difficult work; one abseil taking an hour to set up.
Once down, the four quickly packed up and started heading back down. The descent took a different way scrambling to an abseil point and down climbing to the edge of the glacier. Night was drawing in by this time and considered too dangerous to tackle abseiling in the dark over unstable ice blocks.
A more uncomfortable night’s bivvy, with thunderstorms and rain throughout the night and Nick waking to find himself dangling over the edge of the ledge he’d decided to sleep on.
The abseil over the ice blocks and cliffs was awkward, but the ice more stable after a cold night and soon the worse was over and just a 2 hour plod back to the van, civilisation, beer and showers. A successful outcome with no dramas and La Fiesta de los Monsters in the bag.
Tony and Ali opened another route on the Eveque, a 10 pitch climb with a 3 pitch groove system; Checkmate. The descent followed a diagonal traverse for 500’ which eventually led to the abseil line Tony had set up in previous years.
Tony and Ali teamed up with Nick Gillett to climb a new route in the Pra Sec Aguilles area. A 900’ unclimbed peak, that proved to be a cheeky little HVS, with the crux pitch taking them through a chimney created by huge blocks of stacked slabs. The route was named for Luca Signorelli’s two children Francy and Vale. Luca is a close friend and local expert of the Italian Alps.Their final day in the Alps took the intrepid 4 into the Lower Freboudze and to a 5 pitch gem they named Sexy Beast. Each pitch was an adventure in itself, with wet crumbling rock, grassy groves, wet chimneys, slabs, a hand traverse and an overhanging corner. A brilliant end to an exciting trip with 5,500’ of new rock.