/ alpine route ideas
Up to now, I was never really interested beyond the usual "I wonder" moment.
I now feel that I need to give it a go before I never do it and regret it.
I'm fairly competent and fit (check my profile) but haven't got the slightest idea about routes unless they are mega famous- and likely a bit big for starters (supercouloir and colton-mac GJ).
What would you recommend as a tick list? I like mixed and could be alright on ice with more mileage. I have not done any aid but I'm ready to learn. Finally, I am OK on rock.
I'll ask some of my regular partners who have done some but thought I would inquire with the collective mind of UKC to see what they thought and to see what sort of slating I could get.
I first posted this by mistake in the winter forum.
Dude-I suspect quite a few people have looked at your profile and thought "err-what useful advice can I really give here!":).
Chere coulouir might be nice starter acclimatisation route? D/D-, Grade 4 ice at 3500M, bolted belays, often doable in shady avalanche conditions by abseiling out of the route at the end avoiding the avalanche prone slopes on tacul. Might be a bit tame for you though if your climbing Scottish grade 8.
Only other relevant recommendation I can make is midnight express in cham town centre to a great chevre chaud burger after a long day...
I'd suggest the Migot spur on the chardonet. Lovely route.
Cham although it's an excellent place is very very crowded and popular. It can be difficult to get away from people if that is what you want. Bear in mind that the alps stretch all the way across europe and that there are excellent places to climb everywhere. As I say, it depends when you have time (and how much time), what level of involvement you want, whether you prefer rock routes, ice routes or mixed routes, whether you want it to be remote or if you want liftserved routes...
So I'd say start off with a short trip and get on some very average snow plods to get used to the environment. Cham could be great for this as you have routes like the Petit Aiguille Vert. Don't expect ground breaking excitement, but just enjoy the scenery and getting to the top. There are lots of "playgrounds" there, and you can easily get on mid sized rock routes as well up on the Aiguille du Midi that will get you up high to see how you perform on technical ground etc.
Once you've worked this out, then take a second trip and focus on something more technical and build it up. The trouble with the alps is that its very easy to over extend yourself and get in a world of pain very very quickly... at your standard of climbing, you'll find you progress very quickly so be a little patient and maybe go for the supercouloir on the third trip ;)
Sounds like an exploratory trip with a more alps experienced partner would be the way forward.
This way, you can become adjusted to the scale, speed & the possibilities that are needed to get about safely & efficiently, its not all about the ability to climb at a hard grade.
Some pleasant summit bagging would be the way forward with routes like the Forbes arête being ideal to gain some idea of the requirements.
Think the 100 best routes is the way forward, giving you an insight as well as opening your eyes to future projects & tick lists.
Also, do consider Cham, because regardless of what is claimed, you can find solitude you just have to walk a little further.
I just did my first trip and what I found was you have to stay flexible, like Scotland the weather and conditions dictate what you'll actually get done.
I had my eye on the snowier classics building up slowly over two weeks to perhaps a 4000m summit and something on Mont Blanc du Tacul (possibly cheree coliour or one of the slightly easier routes).
We did do petite Aug. verte, also the glacier walk to Helbronner from Aug. du midi was really good and to be recommended.
After that we concentrated on high up rock routes with safer approach and descents away from rock fall and glaciers as the temperatures were getting up to 37 degrees in cham! During the last few days we did Aug de l'M by the NNE ridge which would probably get softish VS (with 4 stars) in the UK so pretty similar to what I'd lead in the UK mountains grade wise.
It was a great trip and I guess getting good weather nearly every day for two weeks is not something to be scoffed at but I'd have traded less days for more cold, but then I guess going in mid august isn't typically the best time of year for this anyway.
If you've never done anything at altitude it will be interesting to see how you adapt to that also.
Start with the easy short ones like Arete Cosmiques. After you feel comfortable with the rope work you can progress for the bigger stuff. I had similar skils before starting alpine in 2004. My first route was the Petite Aiguille Verte (PD). Second route was Arete Cosmiques (AD) and after that a couple of long rock routes starting from the glacier. Within a year from starting I did the Gervasutti pillar (TD).
You can check how I've progressed here:
Alpine climbing is all about the mileage in the mountains. One of the main things is to survive through the first three seasons.
There's a difference between alpine climbing and climbing in the alps if you see what I mean. Cosmiques Arete, Chere couloir etc are more climbing in the Alps rather than Alpine climbing in terms of the effort and committment involved. Petite Verte is a waste of the lift money unless the weather rules out anything else.
It's a nice way to get acclimatized if you're not on a budget. Take a tent with you and sleep near the top station. Do the route in the evening when there's nobody else there. The 27,40€ what it costs is good value compared to a night in downtown hotels. Also, you can combile it with something on the Argentiere glacier the next day.
Keep them coming.
I've done a fair amount of touring in my time. I'll need to brush up on crevasse rescue though...it's a long time since last practice. I'll pass on the snow plods for sure.
I'm likely to go with experienced people, but I want to have my own ideas too, not just follow up what they want ticked.
Don't be put off by my profile. As for rock I'll be reasonably sleek with rope work etc.
What I really want, and what most seem to tentativelly give, is a nice list of recommendations from the bottom of the scale to well hard.
You won't be held responsible if I bite more than I can chew... that'll be me!
A great adventure at sustained high altitude, in a quite remote part of the MB massif.
Marmolada south face, Don Quixote
Cime Grande, the Comici
Civetta, Philip Flamm
The Ortler North Face
The Konigspitze North Face
Piz Palu, the Bumiller piller
The Roseg, North East face
Ago di Sciora
Cengalo, Vinci route.
Badile, Cassin route
Any route on Monte Qualido
A ski descent of the Macugnaga face on Monte Rosa. I know, it's skiing but have a look at it and you'll see why.
The Mittelegi Intergrale on the eiger
The Monch north face - can't remember the route name
Dent du Geant
Grand J, by any route I'm capable of...
Droites, the swiss route
Aiguille Vert north face
The Chamonix aiguilles traverse
A link up of the Chere Couloir and the Goulotte Chere (which is what most people call the Chere couloir. It.s not. The Chere Couloir is on the left side of the Frendo Spur.
The Kufner Ridge on Mont Maudit
After watching whats his gob, the Innominate Ridge on MB
South pillar of the Ecrins
Fourastier route on the Ailefroide
The south pillar of the Meije
Any route on the Tete d'Aval
the Gaube Couloir on Vignemale.
Alright, here's mine too, even though I thought I had given up Alpinism, I think I may have been wrong..... oh dear... Roughly in grade order
Gallet Ridge, Mont Dolent
Weisshorn, any route
Migot spur, Aiguille du Chardonnet
La Meije, traverse
Cretier route, Mont Maudit
Something on the south side of Mont Blanc
I could keep going....
Cassin and north ridge, Piz Badile
Salbit south ridge
Vaucher route, Peigne
You might (?) get more focused suggestions if you clarify whether you are thinking of Summer, or Winter, in the Alps.
Try having a look at http://funalps.com for ideas around Chamonix in the easy to mid grades (up to TDinf). There are 170 alpine routes and 90 rock routes, nearly all with links to free English translations on the camptocamp.org site, (or the French version if you prefer.) Let me know when you have done them all and I will work on some more!
> Keep them coming.
> I've done a fair amount of touring in my time. I'll need to brush up on crevasse rescue though...it's a long time since last practice. I'll pass on the snow plods for sure.
Don't underestimate the snow plods. In Patagonia most people fail on the approaches. With plodding around on the glaciers you'll learn how to navigate on the glaciers - how the crevasses are - timing and so on. This is especially important skill if you're breaking the path.
Grand Montets is 3200m, Aiguille du Midi 3800m and the rest are 2500m or so. In my experience most my partners are usually ok with 3200m directly off the plane. Some are ok with 3800m and few have problems (like headache) with 2500m already.
For those who don't cope superbly good with altitude the easy evening plod up the Petite Aiguille Verte and spenging a night there is very good way of acclimatizing. It's a good stop before progressing higher up.
That's about what I thought :-)
I'm not adnix... in limited amount of time and money, I'd rather avoid them if I can. Nothing wrong with a jaunt on snow. Anyways, I doubt I'll ever be bothered with the greater ranges. But I take your point though.
I'm not quite sure which is which though, some routes look like winter stuff and are done in summer. Are we talking French way with official cut-off dates, or wintry conditions?
Mostly more interested with axe/ crampon type routes.
Told you I know nothing about this very special game =)
Never done any routes for various reasons but wish to.
All on the Italian side of MB
Pt. Innominata, normal route (AD)
Mt. Blanc, Rochers Route (D+, must be done early in the season)
Aiguille des Glaciers, Kuffner ridge (D)
Tour des Jorasses, Machetto Dihedral (TD but short and with a bolted abseil descent)
The longer routes on the Aiguilles Rouges des Triolet, above the Dalmazzi Hut
Aiguillle Savoie, Preuss Ridge, (D-, this one is a blast)
these are the first on the top of my mind, but there are zillions others
Ok, heres a list.
Ordinary route, Republic, excellent summit.
East face of the grepon, long route but with a tricky descent on the other side.
East face of the Plan, along the plan ridge to the Midi.
Any of the rock routes from the Enver hut.
Contamine on the petite Jorrasse
Innominate ridge south Mont Blanc, for any route on the south, acclimatization is the key.
South ridge of the Noire, the descent is a mare but very character building.
Any route on the Jorrasse to the summit, or the full traverse.
Dent de Geant, preferably on a quiet day.
Forbes, totally classic
The verte by any route, the san nom would be high on the wish list but waiting for conditions could be the key.
Petit clocher, choose from any of the routes, they all look amazing.
Bionassey traverse to mont blanc
Frendo spur, again preferably on a quiet day.
North east spur of the droite
There’s enough there for a while, sure after completing some of these, your own wish list will have evolved
> All on the Italian side of MB
> Tour des Jorasses, Machetto Dihedral (TD but short and with a bolted abseil descent)
Thats been on my tick list for a while now, looks well worth the effort in getting there.
I'm not talking about arbitrary dates, rather the conditions, and the possibilities. Specifically I asked since you mentioned the Colton-MacIntyre: whilst that was first climbed in Summer, nowadays it would normally be considered to be a route to be attempted in Winter only.
(Of course you can try anything anytime, if you're good/brave/stupid enough ...)
That might help. It sounds like you're asking for Scottish Winter-style routes, but on a larger scale? Is that right?
Looking at your profile, my (possibly cliched) suggestion to get you started would be to go to the Argentiere basin (in the Mont Blanc massif) in *very early* Summer season. There are countless good opportunities there: have a look at the guidebook.
It was the Pt. Innominata he mentioned, not the Innominata ridge of Mt Blanc.
Instead I learnt to ski, did ice climbing trips, imporved in scotland and jumped straight back in to the alps in winter with the gabarrou albonini the other year.
We enjoyed it so much that we went back this year and did the frendo ravenal, then some good skiing as the weather crapped out and then the pelissier gully on the lachenal, good mixed climbing and a nice ski all the way back to chamonix. This approach works great as on crap weather days you can ski in winter and you dont feel like you are wasting precious time away.
I would reccomend doing it in winter as it is safer (no rockfall), quieter, and you get good technical ice routes (which I assume you want)
I only climb scottish V (maybe VI) so you would be fine doing this approach, especially as you can ski, so I would reccomend stuff on the east face of the tacul like the GA/ Modica Noury, also routes of the top of the grand montets and it is much more what you are looking for (tecnhical climbing). You also have stuff like the petit viking at the back of the aregntiere basin which looks great.
I think we even bumped into Heike from here on the frendo ravenal so if you ask her she will reccomend stuff of this ilk.
Anything in the Argentiere basin from November to May. Lots of sporty ice climbing in Switzerland, too.
You might want to consider buying these books:
There are plenty of other books, too, but these will get you started for winter ice. Also, Norway has loads of winter climbing available. The topos are lacking, though. Climbing something like the Romsdalshorn or the Storen in winter can be quite nice. Lots of sporty ice in Rjukan, Laerdal, Hemsedal or any other *dal in Norway.
A nice preview of Norway here:
I'll probably be crucified for my opinion but never mind ! I guess that with 2 technical axes, the appropriate footwear and crampons and most of all, balls of steel, you'll get up anything !
I consider myself more of a mountaineer than a climber and I've never had much time for British 'trad' or Scotish winter, but with the Pyrénées just down the road, I've not really needed to ! I always love to arrive 'somewhere' after a climb, preferably a summit with a good view ! There's no shortage of such stuff in the Alps, so why not start by bagging the most prestigious 4000's ? First off I'd go for the Aiguille Verte; up the Couturier and down the Whymper ! Not bad for starters ! Less well known, but still great fun is the 'Z' on La Meije, completed with the traverse to the Aigle hut. ( OK the Meije doesn't quite make the 4000m mark ). As already suggested, Les Droites. The list is endless !
At the moment the West ridge and (as a distant second) the Hirondelles are the two most popular routes to the Grandes Jorasses. The Tronchey ridge linked with the West ridge may be the best combination, but requires the kind of stamina is rarely found today. The two most popular routes on the north face are the Cassin spur followed by the Linceuil in winter, then the Slovenina route + Croz spur. The East face (Gervasutti route) see no more than one or max two climb each year)
> At the moment the West ridge and (as a distant second) the Hirondelles are the two most popular routes to the Grandes Jorasses.
Must mean that most of the traffic on the "normal" route using the two rochers is in the descent mode.
Which is a shame as plenty of interest in the ascent mode, wouldnt hesitate to recommend this as a means of reaching the summit, although have only descended by this means.
> Must mean that most of the traffic on the "normal" route using the two rochers is in the descent mode.
> Which is a shame as plenty of interest in the ascent mode, wouldnt hesitate to recommend this as a means of reaching the summit, although have only descended by this means.
Yes, but the lack of traffic on the normal route of the GJ has little to do with its quality. It's more to do with changes in fashion, and with the depressing/disgusting state of abandon of thw Boccalatte hut. The next Courmayeur administration (election are this november) must absolutely address this issue with the CAI
Just to add a couple of suggestions, one I always wanted to do but never did was the classic traverse of the Drus. Said to be a long, magnifiecent (quoting Rebuffat) expedition, not too hard but long, it looks magnificent.
Another nice training climb for someone of your level is the Contamine Route on the Moine. E facing so nice and warm, take a water bottle though, on excellent rock. Another rock climb that is superb is the N Arret of the Peigne. We got half way up the main bit but a storm broke out and we started getting little electric shocks down the wet rope, so we turned back - not an experience you get in Britain :-)
These are all rock climbs but for ice climbs to start with th Eperon N of the Chardonnet is good value, but I didn't really get much further than that back when I was "active" and these days the climatic change has effected ice climbs quite a bit - rock climbs too as one I was going to suggest on the Aiguille Purtscheller has simply all fallen down apparently.
As said above Rebuffat's "Les 100 plus belles courses - Massif de Mont Blanc" is excellent... totally inspiring and it's in order of difficulty so you can fix yourself objective working through it, if you're that sort of person. Best check details in a modern guide too as it was written 40 years ago. I look at it now with nostalgia and frustration as I'll never be able to finish what I started years ago, nice memories though. I'm jealous :-)
Excellent! The post is going the way I want. People's opinions, ideas and even projects. Gives me a bit of an idea of what I would want.
Remember nothing's too stupid to be mentioned here.
Adnix, excellent idea suggesting guidebooks: More suggestions about those... there are a lot of them about and they're not particularly cheap so I would want to get the good ones.
Luca, ti ringrazio per le tue observazioni. Mi pare que tu conosci queste parte meglio que li altri. Non è un problema di darti del te? Posso fare il lei ma meno facile... io non parlo italiano molto questi giorni. Bisognerebbe praticarlo un po di piu!
Bruce. Ta much for the the post...surely it's never too late. Are you jealous enough that you'd be easily tricked into partnering me some time? ;)
> Yes, but the lack of traffic on the normal route of the GJ has little to do with its quality. It's more to do with changes in fashion, and with the depressing/disgusting state of abandon of thw Boccalatte hut. The next Courmayeur administration (election are this november) must absolutely address this issue with the CAI
So is the best bet to bivi around the site of the hut now? I might get back into alpine climbing next summer and the normal route on the Jorasses looks great and doable for me.
> So is the best bet to bivi around the site of the hut now?
Probably. But dont expect to find anywhere too homely.
I have bivied twice on the descent off the GJ. Once near the foot of the Reposoir? and 30min below the hut. Both were single bed affairs curled around awkward boulders. Slept well both times though, probably because knackered and content after a good route.
The hut for an unmanned affair is totally sufficient so would be ok to plan on stopping there.
Was there at the beggining of this month, although some one was attempting to burn the place down by leaving a candle burning whilst the place was unoccupied!
Nice of you to ask but the mind is willing but the flesh is weak, in fact not so much the flesh as my bones, one of my vertebrae has been weakened by an illness and is now held together with glue, metal and screws so my climbing days are over most probably... I'd make a good advert for B&Q though :-)
One thing I was wondering is how a Frenchman can get to your level of climbing without having been to the Alps? Generally I've found that French climbers I've met are more organized for alpine climbing than Brits. They know how to travel light and move quickly... no egg and bacon in the morning for them :-) They mostly know how to ski too which is a big advantage for any winter climbing or ski-mountaineering... I'm hoping I might be able to get back to a bit of easy skiing though, but the travers of the Drus is out.
I did that once, a long time ago now. I remember that the final iced-up chimney section of the Z-pitch was a classic thrutch: the type of traditional climbing which is very enjoyable - in retrospect!
But the traverse is all rock-climbing, so it is not the route on the Drus which I would suggest for French Erick. For his pleasure, I would suggest a look at the Dru Couloir. That should be right up his street: classic gully ice-climbing above an aid section which probably now succumbs to modern 'mixed' climbing technique.
(Caution: I *don't* speak from personal experience on that one: I haven't tried the route.)
> The hut for an unmanned affair is totally sufficient so would be ok to plan on stopping there.
> Was there at the beggining of this month, although some one was attempting to burn the place down by leaving a candle burning whilst the place was unoccupied!
Unfortunately, because of the lack of maintenance, the Boccalatte hut now gets totally inundated after protracted rain or snow. The entrance door got stuck last spring so when Jon Griffith was coming down from the north face after climbing Manitua, had literally to break in!
A shame... one of the most interesting normal route around, and no manned hut to support it. Just thinking what kind of great work Luciana and Luke did in the six year they were the managers...
Parli meglio l'italiano tu di quanto io parlo l'inglese, per cui non ti preoccupare! :)
> Unfortunately, because of the lack of maintenance, the Boccalatte hut now gets totally inundated after protracted rain or snow. The entrance door got stuck last spring so when Jon Griffith was coming down from the north face after climbing Manitua, had literally to break in!
Credo che non sia vero, il tuo inglese anch'è proprio bravo. Parli molto con gli arrampiccatori inglesi? Forze vai con loro?
I will be limited to school holidays to go which means it'll be either 2 weeks in October, 2 weeks at Christmas time, 2 weeks around easter or anytime in the 6 weeks summer Holidays. Not that I complain... I've loads of holidays as a teacher, but for climbing nick it's not very flexible.
So, I'm taking in what folks are saying. Starting to be inspired by some routes and not by others. I want an adventure that is going to stretch me mentaly and physically but, provided that i'm sensible, is not going to kill me. I want to climb mixed ground and ice. I want it to be fairly technical.
I'll obviously start at the lower end of my list.
Altitude has never bothered me up to the max have been to (Ailefroide), it'll make me feel knackered but no sick ness thus far... probably due to growing up in the Alps?
Forget Cham. Get to Saas Fee and save a fortune on uplift. Buy a tourist card for virtually nothing and have free uplift in the entire valley (the Guides office in Zermatt were in awe of this initiative!!). The routes are endless.
That Dru couloir looks awesome! Looks hard too though... will discuss it with those that would know in my entourage.
Not averse to classic thrutching... I just swear through it ;)
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