We left with open minds in terms of what we were going to climb and immediately saw that E Tutto Relativo looked formed, so we headed straight up to it. You need a flexible approach early season!
We headed up the initial easier pitches which normally would be straight forward but today, early season you needed to take extra care as the ice was very thin and hollow in places.
Dawn pulling around the base of the steep pillar on E Tutto Relativo, Valeille, Cogne.
Our first proper view of the ice at the bottom of the free-standing column.
As you can see the pillar has formed in a multitude of thin columns as the water has dripped down from above making good secure pick and crampon placements difficult to find. The ice screws felt hollow and questionable to how well they'd protect..
Typical early season conditions on a steep free-standing column like this though, before every thing's filled in and the ice having fattened up a little - You could see through the column in parts!
Great climbing though, with the column feeling fresh and unclimbed forcing you to take your time with every axe and foot placement and yes it felt steep!
Dawn topping out, with the steep pillar dropping down out of sight below.
Dawn working hard right up to the belay - E Tutto Relativo, Valeille, Cogne
Dawn abseiling down the top half of the free-standing column - E Tutto Relativo
We then headed on up the valley to check out some of the other routes.
Left - Pattinaggio Artistico Direct touching down but not formed enough to climb, but the upper pitches look great.
Right - the bay of the classic X Files and Hard Ice direct not touching down yet
Left - an unformed Stella Artice
Right - a thin Inachevee Conception
Cold Couloir WI4, 600m looks in good condition
Just a note of caution though - there has been a lot of wind at some point moving the snow around, creating some wind slab which we observed and cross loading some of the gulley's and slopes - be careful on the snow slopes in-between any of the pitches.
Valeille Rive Droite from an unformed Stella Artice on the far left to Cold Couloir on the right
Some of the classics on the other side of the valley - Valeille Rive Gauche
Candelabro del Coyote WI4+/5
Chandelle Levure WI4+ - the route looks very thin and still needs time to fill out.
Hope that helps if you're heading over this way at any point.