Anna and I went to the Cime of Tavels (2795 m) to climb the left Gully of the West face, one of the 3 ice and mixed routes of Tavels. The routes is 250 metres high (6 pitches), graded French TD / 85° 4+ / M4.
It was cold -16°C. The route conditions were good in the first, third and last pitches with hard snow and good ice. In the 4th pitch there were very difficult conditions with thin ice covered with fresh snow, almost impossible to protect. I put only one ice screw and a friend in the whole pitch. The overhand was laborious to climb with frozen rocks and soft snow.
As we didn’t know the route and there was a lot of snow, we didn’t find any pitons in place.
From the top of Tavels, the traverse on the ridge was really nice.
Access: 3 km, ascent: 500m. Park at Isola 2000. Start at the signpost 90 and go toward Lacs de Terre Rouge and Baisse du Druos (signpost 91, 92). At the 92, the Cime of Tavels is just in front, walk toward the left of base of the West face. The gully starts right at the bottom of the large rock face at 2500 meters. Around 1h15 from Isola.
1st pitch (L1): climb the couloir at 50°.
2nd pitch (L2): climb the gully on the right (80/85°), then 60°, then steeper again 70°. After the gully, continue on the couloir 50° to the left.
3rd pitch (L3): climb the couloir 50/55° up to a sling (only peace of gear we saw in the route).
4th pitch (L4): cross left on the ice 55° to the bottom of an overhanging boulder. Climb it (tricky and exposed) and reach the ice gully above.
5th pitch (L5): climb a few dihedral’s covered with thin ice, then continue on mixed and snow.
6th pitch (L6): climb into some mixed and a short frozen slab then go all the way to the ridge on a 50/55° slope (50-60 meters pitch).
Around 4h of climb. We used ice screws, friends, a few nuts and slings.
Descent: follow the ridge toward the South to the Col between Tavels and Tete de la Costasse at around 670 m. Descend the Couloir 40-50° for 150m. Continue toward the signpost 92 and then to Isola 2000. Around 2h-2h30 to return to Isola.