Aiguille Sans Nom Direct linking to Gabarrou Silvy
The North Face of the Aiguille Sans Nom is one of the classic big faces of the Chamonix valley. In winter if provides great easy access to a collection of long and committing ice/mixed climbs. For our ascent we choose to climb the lower half of the face via the Sans Nom Direct, once we passed the middle snow field we moved into the upper pitches of the Gabarrou Silvy. This is a great link up with mostly ice climbing and a few mixed pitches thrown in for good measure. The upper Gabarrou Silvy exit is the crux of the route. In good conditions this will be mostly ice climbing. For us we found two of the crux pitches quite dry and loose. However these still provided great mixed climbing you just had to be careful not to knock any big blocks off as you climbed.
After a big week of snow fall in Chamonix we were quite concerned about the avalanche risk on the approach and descent from the Sans Nom. Conditions this winter had also be quite dry after a very warm summer in 2015 which meant many of the usual winter lines were not in condition. In order to check the face Daniel made a climb on Aiguille Carree two days prior to the ascent. This was a good way to check conditions on a similar aspect to the Vert descent and also snap a few pics of the Sans Nom North Face.
Our tatic was to approach after lunch and bivy at the base of the route. We then climbed to the top and traveresed across the Sans Nom - Vert ridge before descending down the Couterier Couloir. Another and perhaps safer descent option would be to descent the Whymper Couloir however this is longer and mid winter the extra hours of plodding snow might as we did cause you to take the faster more dangerous Couterier Couloir.
For the climb we carried our bivvy gear up the route which gave us the option of having a bivvy on top of the Sans Nom - Vert ridge. In the end we choose not to do this and continued straight down to the Grands Montets lift.
Gear we used
Single set of cams .3 – 3http://alpineexposures.com/euro/aiguille-sans-nom-gabarrou-silvy
6 six screws mostly shorter 2 stubbies would be useful
Single set of nuts 1 – 7
Approach time 2 hours might be shorter depending on the snow conditions. We had fairly deep snow for the approach which we did on foot. No snow shoes or skis.
Time to cross the Sans Nom – Vert ridge 2 hours (untracked deep snow) Descent time 3 – 5 hours could take longer if you have poor / black conditions on the Couterier Couloir Aiguille Verte
We used 2 x 60m ropes a single 60 would also work as you do not need a rope for most of the descent if conditions are good.
2-4 tiblocs for simu climbing
If you want to see some other great pics of the face and also the lower Gabarrou Silvy check out Jon Griffith's blog