Voie Du Korbe, Terres Maudit…A very long day out

So out based in Morzine for 8 days, me and a friend Jake decide to make an attempt on a route called Voie Du Korbe (Flight of the Raven) on Tete du Bostan, a 420m route split into 16 pitches. The rock is primarily slab with many overlaps and a HUGE head wall which is intimidating when your up close to say the least. We where dropped off and walked through the forest for 15 minutes before the monster came into view, it really was an awe inspiring face, as we walked closer to the base the top pitches disappeared from view and we realised just how large this face would be for us!
Seeing the slabs for the first time!
To cut a long story short we failed, badly, on our first attempt to climb the face, we went massively off route due to a bad topo and ended up very high up on trad gear teetering on rock the same consistency as Wensleydale. On the walk down we found a Double Decker sized boulder in the scree with blots still attached, least to say it didn’t set our minds at ease after our day of throwing off half the wall.

After 7 hours on the face we admitted defeated and hitched back to the chalet to recuperate and re plan out attack.

Jake and the detached bolts.

A few days later we where back at the bottom of the route at 8.30am, re-planned, refreshed and ready to give it a real go. The new topo showed 16 pitches with the hardest being F5b. We got to our last high point and quickly surpassed it…we moved up higher out of a channeling gully and onto the real face of Tete du Bostan. The views where spectacular and the exposure always reminding you of the huge amount of air between the ground and your feet.

About half way up the face you encounter huge overlaps (see the next photo), which although menacing looking are easy enough to climb, we moved quickly through the first 12 pitches, and stopped for lunch at 3pm on a small grassy ledge.

At the half way overlap

Around the overlaps are where bolts start getting considerably further apart and harder to spot. At points we where blindly climbing lines in search of bolts with the last protection 25 feet below, though perseverance and a blind faith that we would fight our way to the top and conquer Tete du Bostan and Voie Du Korbe. The real fun when it came it to the infamous traverse pitch, according to the topo a 70m traverse with next to no bolts, though you do start from a huge comforting ledge. Needless to say we missed the bolts and the tat belay which lead up onto higher, more exposed and considerably harder ground. I followed 2 bolts along the ledge and the placed natural gear (when I could find it) until I could build a substantial gear belay, Jake followed me across and lead up some very easy ground to re-meet the bolts at the end of the ‘proper’ traverse. From here the game was almost over and it was an easy 3 pitches to the top on bolts and bolt/tat belays.

At the half way overlap

We got to the top, where horrendous looking thickets lead up to the summit and the path back down (which is apparently 3 hours back to the valley below). Our intention was to walk off but after seeing the way ahead we made the decision to abseil back down. We had take 11 hours up and topped out at 19.00, it took us another 4 hours of abseiling to reach the floor, and at quarter past midnight we reached the road and our lift home to food and our beds at 01.30. We had an epic 18 hour day which although was incredibly tiring, was rewarding especially due to our failures beforehand. The route is testing, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, our friendship by pitch 16 was being tested and it was hard not to snap at each other. Pitches of F4 that at a single pitch crag feel like a breeze felt like our limit 400m off the floor and 11 hours into the day. Although the long day and pain, this has to be one of the nest days out rock climbing I have ever had.

After we got back down we decided it would be a good idea to try and make a reasonable English topo of the route, with description and map. This is a topo of how we climbed it, and where we belayed…we split some pitches down due to length (some are 60m+) or crippling rope drag. Please find the topo and description in another post, and happy climbing!
Topo of Voie Du Korbe, Terres Maudit, Tete du Bostan


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