“It should take between 2 to 10 hours”

Couturier Couloir, North Face Aiguille Verte.

These pictures don’t do justice to what happened on Thursday night. Early in the day I joked that the climb was an easy cardio blast & that it should take something between 2 & 10 hours. Instead of the normal (easy to climb) frozen snow we found a wall of thin ice, peppered with small stones that would melt out above and shoot past our heads. We started at 9ish and summited at 8pm on a magically clear & still night. At 4121m we sat tired above nearly all the other mountains in the range. It was overpowering. Hinrik ‘Olason told me it was the most amazing thing he had done in his life. I was emotional but didn’t cry this time. The conditions meant that a 10 hour down climb still lay ahead. At 2am I slept for 20 minutes tied to a rock on the 800m high south face. At 630am I was so tired that I was tripping and thought that Arnaud Gasser was my friend Jon Wood from Scotland. We then plodded through breakable crust above thick powder for what seemed like an eternity. I have never pushed my body so hard, by the time I got to the hut I must have looked like a crack addict. We met Tormod Granheim – a chap that made the first ski descent of Everest’s North Face. He asked us if we were going to give up climbing and go to Ibiza.

Never.

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