Hervé Barmasse, Iker and Eneko Pou have opened up a new route on the southern Italian face of Mont Blanc, the second of a trilogy of climbs within The North Face® expedition, Exploring the Alps. The new route was opened on August, 1st, 2011.
The new route was named “La Classica Moderna” (the Modern Classic). Barmasse stated, “The ascent resembled the ethics and philosophy of Walter Bonatti who, in 1959, was the first person to climb on the monoliths of this side of Mont Blanc. I would define the style as modern-classic; a style that mirrors those of the pioneers, who, to get back home, had to reach the top of Mont Blanc, hence the name La Classica Moderna.”
Barmasse and the Pou brothers free-climbed Valle d’Aosta, which is the Freney side of the Mont Blanc south face, without bolts in order to christen La Classica Moderna. They took only the essentials with them and used basic traditional protection including pitons on the ascent. When the team approached the Brouillard Pillar, they were in knee-deep snow due to weeks of bad weather. When the first sunny day arrived, eleven pitches were opened on the rock pillar, up to grade 6c on the Brouillard left pillar.
The team experienced temperatures below 15°F where a bivouac was established on the top of Mont Blanc on the Courmayeur side (4,765 m). Other stays during the climb included Rifugio Monzino (2,590 m) and a stop at Bivacco Eccles (3,850 m). Despite the cold temperatures, the scenery was extraordinary.
Hervé Barmasse has four generations of mountaineering in his genes. With the Matterhorn in his backyard, Herve began his mountaineering career by opening and repeating many prestigious routes, steep skiing and solo climbing. He has established routes in Pakistan and Patagonia among others. Barmasse was honored with the Paolo Consiglio Award from the Italian Alpinists’ Club after he made the first solo ascent of an unclimbed 6,000-meter wall in Pakistan where he established two new routes. He also received the coveted Grolla d’Oro award after he made the first solo ascent and first repeat ascent of the Matterhorn South Directissima route. Barmasse’s father had made the original ascent of this route with two partners back in 1983.
Eneko Pou was raised in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. His love of climbing began when he was a child and was heightened when he was selected as a member of the first Spanish Young Mountaineer Team back in 1998. Eneko has explored the many disciplines of mountain adventuring including rock climbing, ski mountaineering, ice climbing and high-altitude alpinism. He and his brother, Iker, conquered the Seven Wall-Seven Continents Project that started in 2003 and ended with the climax of the first ascent of Three Pigs on the Antarctic Peninsula via a new route that the brothers named Azken Paradisua.
Iker Pou had a natural talent for advanced climbing as he followed in his big brother’s, Eneko Pou, footsteps. He scaled his first 8b+ (5.14a) as a young teenager with only two years of experience under his belt. Iker was heavily involved with competitive climbing, but he felt that it was essential to “enjoy the competitive part, but never forget about the mountains and their adventures.”
The first ascent in the trilogy of climbs for Exploring the Alps took place on the Matterhorn-Cervino (4,478 m) in April 2011. Barmasse opened up a new solo route on the southeast face of the Matterhorn. The aim of this expedition is to push the limits of mountaineering in the Alps where alpinism was born by comprising three new routes, up three of the highest mountains in the Alps (The Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and Monte Rosa), in three different ascent styles. With two routes complete, the next and last one on the list is Monte Rosa.
If you enjoyed this article, please click on Subscribe at the top of the page to receive E-mail notifications for future articles by this author. Also join my Facebook group and follow me on Twitter.