We drove a mile down the valley past Epinal to one of the tunnels protecting the road from avalanches. It was only minus 5 where we parked up and in the shade all day, which I felt was the best of both worlds.
The route is 3 pitches, with the 1st pitch being the steepest, climbing vertically up and over the side wall of the tunnel & onto the roof.
The wet weather they had here in November had created plenty of run off, coupled with the cooling winter weather & freezing temperatures, had formed a fat steep pillar of ice spilling out over the tunnel roof.
The ice was beautiful, very featured, chandeliery in places but almost plastic when placing the axes.
The climbing really worked you're technique and was so good we dropped the rope back down and climbed it a couple more times.
Jesper working hard on the middle steep section
A team on the 3rd pitch ahead of us
After the first pitch you're now standing on the roof of the tunnel. It's a huge area with no road noise and a feeling of being on the side of a steep canyon with snow all around. The second pitch eases off a little as you climb 40m up and left to a flat area and a chain belay. The 3rd pitch continues on up slightly steeper ground and then into more of a gully to the top. There are a couple more short steps higher up, if you have time in the day to explore.
Back to Cogne for a coffee and a relax in the afternoon sun!