Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Later this week: Al Parker and Paul Nunn on Piz Badile in 1962.

" From the stance, Paul cautiously moved out on verglassed rock, round the left arête of the chimney, then climbed direct up slabs right of the couloir.  Out of sight round the corner he was obviously experiencing some difficulty as the rope snaked out very slowly. I shouted up to let him know that he was nearly out of rope, “How much is there?” he asked “ about  20ft “ I replied.  “There’s a stance 40ft above me, take the belay off we’ll have to move together.” I did as he asked and climbed very carefully on the iced rock hoping that he had clipped some pegs on the way up. After what seemed an eternity, I was relieved to hear a peg going in. At the stance, we agreed that this pitch must have been HVS. Paul had sunk the belay peg in up to the hilt. I led through towards the summit ridge. When Woolcock passed that way a couple of weeks later, suspecting it was our peg, he tried to remove it but soon gave up. He knew Paul didn’t give away gear easily and that if it had been removable, it wouldn’t have stayed there. At the ridge we turned left and climbed the last few feet to the summit. We had done one of the six classic north faces of the Alps; 3000ft graded TD Superior it had taken us 8 hours. We had been the only ones on the face so were not held up at all, in fact we didn’t see anyone else all day on the whole of the mountain.
At the summit ridge we were hit by a strong wind so deciding to forego the brew that we had promised ourselves began to descend as quickly as possible by the North Ridge. Somehow, we got onto the SW face on very loose rock, enormous loose flakes but nothing solid enough to belay on.  Deciding that it was too dangerous we retraced our steps to the summit'.....'

Later this week,Al Parker, author of the acclaimed history of the UK's Alpha Mountaineering Club, describes a memorable week in 1962 when with mountaineering legend-the late Paul Nunn-he tackled the classic Cassin route on Piz Badile in less than perfect conditions to make an early English repeat of the route.