Divine Providence by Damien Tomasi
Published on 23/07/2020
Open on July 5th to 8th, 1984, "Divine Providence" is perhaps one of the biggest routes in the Mont-Blanc massif... And already, everything was there to build a myth...
The two openers first. At the time Patrick Gabarrou and François Marsigny formed one of the roped parties, if not THE most active roped party: goulotte in the south face of the Barre des Ecrins, "Fantomastic" and "Frénésie Pascale" at Mont Blanc, “Dom” (still not repeated) on the south face of Mont Maudit, … and many more.
In "Divine Providence" they sign their masterpiece: a major and daring route on the highest point of the massif and the Alps: Mont Blanc.
During the opening, while the second climbed with Jumars, a pendulum had caused several pitons to come off, including one of the cams of the belay … The roped party then found itself hanging from a single piton! The name of the route was then readily available when the summit had not yet been reached!
A few years later, in summer 1990, Thierry Renault and Alain Ghersen free climbed almost the whole route. Only the penultimate pitch of the shield, a roof now graded 7a, resisted to them because it was completely soaked.
From then on, “Divine Providence” will become a reference for mountaineers in love with great routes and great adventures.
Alain Ghersen will return there, alone, during the winter of 1993 to live an extraordinary adventure that will last 5 days.
Sometime later, the following summer, Titi Gentet in Antoine de Choudens put the turbo on and covered the route in 6.30 hours from the bergschrund to the top of the Grand Pilier d’Angle (!!!). Their idea was to follow up with the "Jori Bardill direct" at the Frêney pillar.
Over time, many climbers / mountaineers have taken the path of the Grand Pilier d’Angle to confront the myth ...
On Wednesday July 8, 2020, with Aymeric Clouet and Leo Billon we climbed “Divine Providence” during the day.
Aymeric and Leo free climbed it all, while a foot slip in the 7a dihedral deprived me of the ascent on sight.
But beyond the sporting performance, climbing “Divine” is above all a story of mountaineering… As Leo says, it's a bit like entering a museum and appreciating the daring of the forerunners, the talent of the liberators, the madness of the winter lone climber and the passion of all repeaters!
To climb “Divine Providence” in a day, the choice and preparation of the gear were crucial steps.
Performance and lightness are the cornerstones of these stages.
- Trend harness: designed for sport climbing, it is very comfortable for long mountain routes too
- Air Tech crampons. To save some precious grams, I replaced the classic heel piece with an Aluminum one.
-I chose the Radical Light 21 backpack. In the ramps at the bottom of the face, we carried our pack on our back but we hoisted it into the shield. In order to be as agile as possible, a lightweight and space-saving backpack is an asset.
- Stealth helmet: light and ventilated, ideal solution for a demanding route like Divine.
- Ghost Evo Hammer ice axe for even more freedom. The fairly technical blade nevertheless makes it possible to overcome a few not very steep portions of ice.
Action Photos by Aymeric Clouet, Leo Billon et Antoine Rolle.
Article by Damien Tomasi.
Damien Tomasi, 33 years old athlete born near Nice, France is mountain guide and ENSA instructor. Main activities: climbing, ice climbing and big alpine routes.
Grivel favorite products: Dark Machine X, G20 Plus and Duetto helmet.