by Sam Beaugey

The Xaver Bongard’s spirit is living in our heads. Le Grand Voyage is still the ultimate and unrepeated route in Great Trango. Dunge glacier’s side give the steepest side you can find on the Trango Towers .

Martial Dumas (nickname Cochonette), Jean-Yves Fredriksen (Blutch) and Yann Mimet (Mimouse) gave me the best you can offer: take a flight from the top of the peak. They accept to lower down the loads without me!

When we get to the base camp and face to our dream, reality was different; many snow falls late in the spring gave some hard conditions even for a 6000m elevation. Ali Baba, the couloir to get to the base of Le Grand Voyage was permanently blow by avalanches (mid day, early morning, at night…).Too much opportunity to die. So we decide to change 300 m before on the Pulpit, left of Great Trango. There was an obvious line left of Kaspersen route on the yellow wall for the first section then on the prow for the second.

Our “light” expedition was finally 360kg cargo and more than 400kg in the wall... We had everything ; 15 days of food 2 portaledges, 9 pigs and a water drum, also 500 m of ropes and few bolts (only 27 for 1500m of climb) and except the bolts there is nothing left on the mountain. After four days we bring the loads to Camp 1, beginning of the wall by a snow couloir then a mixed ridge.

Few days rest then we had to start for our slow capsule style. Weather was perfect blue sky for seven days. The first wall was much harder than we were expecting. First class aid climbing mostly with beaks, hooks and expanding flakes. The heating sun made us not quiet because many snow mushrooms was falling and smashing the upper section. Hopefully the camp 2 was fixed below a massive roof called “the bunker”. We had to climb at night above that roof to avoid the blitz and join the hanging glacier. We fixed camp 3 at 2 o’clock in the morning the second night.

Again the question of mushrooms is present. To start the second wall there were two pitches in the fall line of Mobydick, an incredible cornice. After a first try in daylight and a big explosion of the fins of Mobydick who smashed me and the camp we decided to move the camp below on the glacier and to climb again at night. Weather is now really bad and we had to wait four days in the portaledge during storm. Weather is still bad but we decide to push and keep going.

Jumaring on the ice lines and hauling on the storm was kind of pain but after a mixed pitch and loose rock we fixed Camp 4 before the last section.

Martial climb 5 hours in the dihedral above the camp mostly through a sweet snowfall and I fixed another pitch below a black roof full of stalactites. The day after is the 16th day in the wall and weather is just foggy but not too bad. Mimouse call me by radio from the higher pitch “sam! Probability of Exit Point!

The weather becomes better there is three pitches left before the top of the rock but never mind it is now or never. I check the line and decide to use my wing suit (10 days of thinking to know if I going to pass over the hanging glacier by flight or opening the canopy before). My fly capacity will be decrease by low pressure and I will become for sure a little bird. I clean a small ledge for my feet and left the last camalot who was securing me,  and  “3 2 1… I jumped into the grey air”.

I slide close to the first big ledge 40m below then move right a bit to target the steepest ice gully of the hanging glacier just in case…Finally my wings begin to work and I can take the left direction of the second wall. Close to me the seracs follow my descent for a total of 45 seconds before opening and landing on the Ali Baba’s avalanche cone. Here we are! Thank you to them.

The day after, a bit sad and without food, my three friends keep going for summit. It is foggy and the  white out decide them to stop at the top of the rock and left the last snow ridge to the summit. The descent is going to take two full days with a night to Camp 2 in the bunker. I’m so happy to see them. They spend 19 days in total in the wall. Javed our guide, Ouazir and Nasar, our cooks, are taking full part of our dream team, we’re laughing together all night long…

Note from Sam Beaugey that accompanied the article:

Here we are no more than this 17 days up and 2 days down or 2 minutes, depends the option..

 Azazel 22/06/05 to 10/07/05

1500m VII/A3+/4/M6/6a

--lot of numbers for nothing, but we had a good time altogether:

 Yann Mimet, Jean-Yves Fredriksen, Martial Dumas, Sam Beaugey.


Back to the big wall web page