La Croisade, a new mixed climb on Aiguille des Pelerins by Symon Welfringer and Tom Livingstone

Above Chamonix, France, the Aiguille des Pélerins is a Mecca for mixed climbing, with what is undoubtedly the most famous mixed route of the Mont Blanc massif, Beyond Good and Evil (Andy Parkin, Mark Twight, 1992). This winter French Symon Welfringer and Brit Tom Livingstone send a new line right of Beyond, a steep route that they named La Croisade. Words by Symon Welfringer.

It’s been a while since I’ve noticed this line in the middle of the north face. When I ascended Beyond Good and Evil back in 2019, I saw this amazing roof hanging in the middle of the wall and wondered if a route could pass through it. I knew that Xavier Cailhol and Jeff Mercier tried to open a line in order to go around this roof but finally opened the pitches of Flammes de l’enfer an amazing variation of Beyond. On 31st of January, together with Tom we climbed to the base of les Pélerins, climbed the pitches of « Flammes » some sustained drytooling pitches up to M7. I do respect Jeff’s work as he’s always finding those nice tiny cracks that are made to be climbed with Ice axes. Xavier was also down in Chamonix and could spot us with the binoculars. At the end of the first day, we managed to fix some of the hard parts and went down to the hut.

The pitch before the great roof © Symon Welfringer

Fine mixed climbing for Symon © Tom Livingstone

Day 2

After an early start to go back to our high point, the new pitches appeared on the second day. After some tricky climbing on poor rock (around M7) we finally arrived at the base of this massive roof : 30m climbing on a 45° overhanging crack, impressive.

As the crack was going up all along, we knew it was climbable but hard to say how hard it could be in freeclimb. Tom went first and managed to do a great job climbing some sequences and stop to aidclimb at some point, that thing looked really hard.

I tried my chance to free it in toprope but after 10m, this was too hard for me and especially too steep.

Tom enjoying the view © Symon Welfringer

Steep mixed climbing for Symon © Tom Livingstone

This pitch is amazing and it could be a great challenge to be freed

This pitch is amazing and could be a great challenge to free it (maybe around M9/M10 ?).

The part that follows gave us some really cool climbs, around 6 long pitches from the top of the roof to the summit ridge. 3 pitches that remain really sustain and requires good conditions (from M5 to M7), one of the pitches I led required some few meters of tricky climb and I aidclimb some part (A2) but could be well climbed in free too. In the end, we propose this route La Croisade : M7+/ A2 / grade 5+ for 600 meters of great climb on really solid rock. Freeing the route is quite a cool challenge for the next ones I think.

Pitches detailed : First pitches of Beyond then onto Flammes de l’enfer (M5 – M6 – M6) then the new route M7+ – M6+ – the roof, A1 (maybe M9 or M10 ??) – M5 – M6+/A2 – M5 – 100 m of easy terrain.

Gear : two racks up to Camalot n°3, 1 x n°4, few pegs and nuts.

Tom in the roof © Symon Welfringer

Sunset above Chamonix © SW

Grades remain something really personal and hard to define precisely but we tried to agree with each other given our different experience and also how the grades are globally in the massif, I think it’s good to keep some homogeneity.

The descent is obvious, you rappel down to the col of Pélerins and use the rappels of Rébuffat which are really straight and fast. Thanks for the great time outside tom and I hope some strong people will come to try this thing free. I would be super happy to give more infos about gear and everything for those interested.