Rescued at Frendo
On September 7th, I had planned a mountain route on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi (France), the so-called Frendo spur. This was a route that I had already done twice before on my own. I do this type of outings frequently, alone or accompanied, as they are both the basis of my training and of my free time.
I was accompanied by Emelie Forsberg and we were both equipped with light materials (short sports leggings, fine down jackets and trainers). We set off at dawn from Plan d'Aiguille, at 8:30 am to be precise, planning to return some 4 hours later, which was the time I - wrongly- estimated the journey would take. We had checked the weather forecast the day before, which announced bad weather as of 5 pm, and we both carried rock climbing materials (a set of friends, climbing chocks, 60m of rope ...) and also ice climbing equipment (2 ice axes each, technical crampons and ice screws).
We started off at a good pace along the route, and at 9 am we started to climb roped together. At 12 we were about an hour from the summit. There, on the last stretch of the climb, we took a wrong turn and when we realized what had happened, we abseiled down to get back on the right path, losing about 3-4 hours. About 50m from the summit, my companion had a problem, and it was at that moment that we decided to call the PGHM (high mountain rescue team), aware that the weather would worsen heavily in an hour's time. We decided to make that call so as not to take a greater risk. At that altitude, it was me who had more experience and so I was responsible for the safety of my fellow climber.
The rescue team told us that, due to the weather, a helicopter could not be used, and they would reach us on foot taking the Aiguille du Midi cable car and then abseiling down the 50m that separated them from the top of the Aiguille. It took 4h for the team to arrive at the scene after the call was made. From there, in a very professional and secure way, we were taken to the top of the Aiguille, from where the cable car took us down to Chamonix. We didn't suffer any injuries or major consequences, apart from suffering a bit from the cold.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the mountain rescue teams for their work, which is always so professional and efficient.
This is a warning that the mountain is a hard and dangerous place, even when precautions are taken. One must be humble in the mountains, because a high price can be paid for our failures, especially when travelling light. We must accept and be aware of the risks that we are prepared to take individually and with the people who accompany us, depending on our physical and technical skill and also our experience.
On this occasion I overestimated the capabilities we had as a team and the time it would take to make the route and the material we would need, as I did not anticipate that there would be the possibility of spending a night on the flat in a storm. Luckily everything ended well and I hope this misadventure serves me well not to make the same planning mistakes in the future.