Rocky Ridges and Routes

David and I have had a successful weeks climbing together. We have covered lots of excellent ground on limestone and granite. Routes completed;

  • L’Arete a Marion near the Col des Aravis.
  • Aiguille d’Entreves Traverse.
  • Traverese of the Pyramide Calcaire in the Val Veny.
  • The Voie Perroux Brunat on L’ Index above Chamonix.

Tomorrow we are off to La Duchere to look at multi pitch lead climbing skills.

Les Ecrins and the Mont Blanc Massif

The start of this week in the Alps brought snow and even avalanche warnings being issued in the Mont Blanc Massif. Therefore, after climbing the Aiguille de la Charlanon, Rob, Andy, Mike and I escaped to Les Ecrins for a couple of days.

On Monday we walked to the Refuge de la Pilatte before traversing Mont Gioberney via the North East Ridge and the Voie Normale. The cold winds had covered the North East Ridge in rime and verglas which made the crux UIAA IV crack pitch pretty hard. It had a very Scottish feel. This should now have all cleared with the warm weather.

A local French Guide on the crux crack.

We spent the next three days in the Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont Blanc Massif climbing; Via Corda Alpina, Athina on the Contrefort de Droite, L’Index (2595m) and the Arete des Cosmiques.

All these routes were in good condition. The rock on Athina is not as good as that on the routes further left on this buttress and some of it should be treated with care. The Arete des Cosmiques still has enough snow on it to wear crampons the whole way.

Cool sky above the Cosmiques.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

The Duforspitze and L’Index

Following on from our successful trip to the Champoluc valley, John and I have had another successful three days in the mountains.

On Thursday we travelled to Zermatt before completing the approach to the Monte Rosa Hutte where we overnighted. Following the 2am breakfast the next morning we climbed to the top of the Duforspitze (4634m) before returning to Saint Gervais les Bains. The Duforspitze is the highest point in the Monte Rosa Massif and the second highest mountain in Western Europe. The mountain was in good condition.

Yesterday we climbed L’Index (2595m) above Chamonix. This classic rock peak is featured in Gaston Rebuffat’s book, ‘100 Best Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif’.

John on L'Index with Mont Blanc behind.

John on L’Index with Mont Blanc behind.


Les Aiguilles Crochues

Danny and I finished our six days together today by traversing Les Aiguilles Crochues (2840m). This ridge traverse is accessed from L’Index chairlift in Les Aiguilles Rouges.

Mont Blanc from the approach to Les Aiguilles Crochues.

Mont Blanc from the approach to Les Aiguilles Crochues.

The ridge is climbed on excellent rock and good spikes are available for belaying and to allow moving together.

A team enjoying the excellent rock scrambling.

A team enjoying the excellent rock scrambling.


The return to the lift station is made via Lac Blanc. There is a Refuge next to the lake which provides a great place to stop for a coffee break.

Danny returning to L'Index chairlft with Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte in the distance.

Danny returning to L’Index chairlft with Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte in the distance.


Mont Blanc, L’Index, Aiguille de la Gliere

Mont Blanc from near the summit of L'Index.

Mont Blanc from near the summit of L’Index.


On the 14th July, with the ‘Alphubel’ team I spent the night at the Tete Rousse Hut. At 2am on the  15th July we left the hut to ascend Mont Blanc. The Grand Couloir was frozen and no rocks fell down it during our ascent. However, there has been reports of rockfall later in the day. The temperatures in the Alps are currently high and this will become more of a problem over the next few weeks.

There was a good track from the Gouter Hut to the summit.

The Vallot Shelter early on the 15th July.

The Vallot Shelter early on the 15th July.

We descended Mont Blanc via the Trois Monts route. The descent from the Col du Maudit is currently on good snow. However, at the bottom the bergshrund is beginning to open and some teams may prefer to take two 60 metre ropes to abseil over this hole.

The usual serac problems exist on Maudit and Tacul. One crevasse on Mont Blanc du Tacul is crossed on large pieces of serac debris. If a team chooses to ascend Mont Blanc by this route a very long time will be spent underneath these seracs.

A team in front descending from Mont Blanc.

A team in front descending from Mont Blanc.

Yesterday, we had a day out in the Aiguille Rouge climbing L’Index  via the ‘Arete Sud’ and the Aiguille de la Gliere via the ‘Nez Rouge’. Details of both these excellent routes can be found in the guidebook ‘Plaisir West’ by Jurg Von Kanel.