My apologies for the incorrect summit reference in my Spot on 2/8/22. A typical cut and paste error from the day before. I realised my error almost as I sent the text and thanks to F4WBN, Chris, for the correction.
We successfully activated Le Grand Flambeau on 2/8/2022. Thanks for the 24 QSOs. We climbed the SE ridge from the Helbronner lift station (a stunning lift BTW). There is a small patch of quite flat glacier to cross then onto the ridge, which has old cables lying at the bottom from defunct summer ski tows no longer in use. The ridge is composed of very loose and friable rock which we found was very dangerous to climb. Possibly owing to the melting glaciers all around. The quality of the rock never improved and the ascent was slow taking almost 2 hours to reach the top of this modest peak. There is enough space on the top ridge to carefully rig a 20m long antenna, with some improvisation.
The descent was frankly terrifying. We roped up but there were only 2 places where the rock was stable enough to place a running belay. It might have been safer without the rope? The descent took almost as long as the ascent. Despite taking the utmost care I accidentally knocked off 3 large blocks (larger than a microwave, smaller than a washing machine) but thankfully without harm. Of the two of us I am 30% heavier. If anyone had been below us they would have been killed as the rocks crashed down onto the glacier 200 metres below. I also dislodged 10s of smaller blocks again, thankfully with no harm to either of us.
I/VA-012 is not a summit I recommend, the risk, even with extreme care, is not really worth it.
Our route may be safer (more stable) in winter when the rock is frozen, but that would be a full on mixed ice climb.
Our plans for attempts on a couple of other possible activations were abandoned because of the poor (ie dangerous) conditions.
Please take care out there.