/ Spring climbs in the French Alps

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Wanderer100 - on 07 Mar 2013
Hopefully heading to France in early April and looking for recommendations of PD+/AD routes round Mont Blanc region that would be in good condition at that time of year. Can do 2 days maximum.
Wanderer100 - on 07 Mar 2013
In reply to Wanderer100: Oh and preferably a 4000 metre peak!
davidoldfart - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Wanderer100: You only have two days and you want to climb a 4,000-m peak? You're not going to feel very well and normal routes on Mt Blanc 4000-ers do not generally go well in early spring, especially after a snowy winter - as this one has been. I think you would be advised to aim for shorter routes within easy access to a teleferique. There will be deep snow about - skis or snowshoes probably essential for approaches.

If you are a reasonably good rock climber (VS leader) the south facing Eperon des Cosmiques is ok at that time of year if it hasn't snowed. About five pitches, V or D- , abseil descent, walk back up to the Midi afterwards. The Cosmiques Arete (AD) will also be ok if it isn't too snowy and takes you to the top of the same mountain. On the north side the Mallory-Porter is about AD but a long way, around 1,000 m of climbing. It only has one tricky bit, a short mixed step. It does end at the top cable car station.

If you are confident on longer, slightly steeper snow and ice routes with a long descent then the Coutourier Couloir on the Verte (which is a 4,000-er) is possible. NB a long walk back to the valley after descending the Whymper to the Couvercle Hut. Do not try this if you have no previous Alpine winter experience. It's a big day out and you may encounter bullet hard ice near the top.

Other than that, there are plenty of somewhat more technical but less serious ice routes with equipped abseil descents. The Chere Couloir (D, Scottish 4) on the Tacul is an obvious choice. Other possibilities: N face of Col du Plan (AD+ or D, Scottish 3+) with descent from Midi 'frique; Petit Viking at the head of the Argentiere Glacier - longer and quite a bit steeper, maybe Scotish 4+ or easy 5.

If the snow is not too bottomless you might manage the normal route or the Y Couloir on the Aig. D'Argentiere, but you want to be very sure of snow and avalanche conditions.
Wanderer100 - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to davidoldfart: Thanks for the recommendations. I understand its not easy going to as high ss 4000m in a 2 day slot but have managed it on a few occasions previously most notably climbing the Cosmique Arete on Day 1 and then Mont Maudit on Day 2, not without pain and suffering in the Cosmique Refuge inbetween days. I had been thinking of the Chere Couloir, didnt realise it was a D which means its probably beyond me. What about the South Ridge of the Droites? Is that a feasible option in spring conditions? (Graded AD in Martin Morans 4000 metre Alps guide)
MG - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Wanderer100:
>Is that a feasible option in spring conditions? (Graded AD in Martin Morans 4000 metre Alps guide)

A longish glacier approach then mostly on steep snow with one rock section. I would imagine you would need things to be stable and consolidated and would almost certainly want skis for the approach. Quite serious.
davidoldfart - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Wanderer100: The south side of the Droites is quite remote. Long plod from Montenvers to Couvercle hut; long plod on to the route.
Wanderer100 - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to davidoldfart: Maybe a rethink required for a 4000m peak at that time of year. I was also thinking of Aiguille de Triolet but again a long approach to the Hut and all dependant on conditions. I will wait and see what the weathers like and then decide. Thanks for the information/advice.
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walts4 - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Wanderer100:

The Geant is always a good bet in April if the rock face is clear of snow.

You can wander across from the lift & back in day even without skis!

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