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A State of Shock (Etat du Choc)

There was a list of four routes on Heather’s fridge (the fridge list).  Three weren’t in condition after the recent storms in Chamonix, so that left one: Etat du Choc on the Petit Clocher du Portalet.  My french brain didn’t seem to be on form after a long week of work and I’d forgotten that this route translates as State of Shock, and not some sweeter alternative.  That said, after a good few hours of upward fighting up a 9 pitch off-width, the line was definitely worthy of being on the fridge list and the north face of the Portalet is quite possibly the best face of granite in region.

Etat du Choc is a route that just keeps on taking. After the first couple of pitches the line just doesn’t relent, from hands to fists, to constricted chimney to full on overhanging lay-backing, it eats pretty much all the cams you can throw at it (or throw off it in my case – luckily free-falling 200m to land next to the bags!).

Add it to your fridge list and prepare yourself!

  • Pitches: 6a+, 6b, 6b+, 6c, 7a, 6c, 7a/b, 6b+, 4c (About UK E5 with fixed belays and the odd bolt where it feels desperate)
  • Rack: Single set of nuts, double set of new Wild Country friends + 3 size 3s + 2 x size 4 + 1 size 5 (you would place more 5s and a 6 if you took them, but this was adequate)
  • Descent: 4 abseils down the south face and a scramble back to the bags
The north face of the Petit Clocher du Portalet with Etat du Choc the obvious crack splitting the left side of the face
The line is pretty obvious… Straight up. This is pitch 4 of 9 at F6c.
The hand emerges from the void on the first crux pitch
Putting the new Wild Country cams (and some borrowed extras) to good test.
Turning this position into an overhanging layback, and then sprinting to the belay after 40m of climbing is the crux of this brutal pitch.
The water situation got a bit desperate

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