Rockfax Description
IV, 1200m, 1 - 2 days. To call this a 'classic' is almost to do it a disservice - this is THE classic hard Chamonix route! Cams and modern rockboots mean that the route can be climbed faster than it used to be but, even in the 21st century, ticking the Walker Spur is still a major achievement.
The route is rarely dry enough to be climbed in rockboots but it needs to be if it is to bear any resemblance to this description. If you climb it in mixed conditions it will be hard and (even more) time consuming so it is best to wait (even if takes a few years) to get it when it is dry. Pitch by pitch descriptions are available but if you're going to climb it in anything like decent time you will need to move together as much as possible and have a good nose for route finding as the line is not that obvious. We've described the route by features and broken it down into sections so that you can motor up to a key feature, look up and pick out the route, then carry on moving without spending too much time studying the topo. There is a lot of random tat plus pegs and various others bit of gear which are off route, so don't be tempted to follow everything man-made that you see.
1) Start up a snow slope to the right of the toe of the spur and then move left onto the crest of the spur itself. Follow this over broken, loose but fairly moderate ground to where the angle eases back, level with the bergshrund of the Colton-MacIntyre.
2) Head up and left across broken and loose ground, aiming for a series of slabs. In very dry conditions this section will just be rock, but it may be mixed. Either way it has the lowest angeled - and some of the loosest - terrain on the whole route. Having reached the slabs, the terrain steepens and gently leads you to a small ledge below a vertical wall, pierced by two corners.
3) 6a. Climb the overhanging left-hand corner (the Rébuffat corner, 6a ) and then move right into the one above (the Allain corner, 6a ) and follow it onto an large, flat ledge. This section is the crux of the whole route with the step right between the corners being the key move. It is possible to aid some of the pitch but the crux is a thin slab move of 6a+ and can't be aided.
4) 5c. From the large ledge, step down slightly and then climb diagonally up and right for 120m to reach the crest of the spur and, just to the right of it, the 75m corner, which is hard to mistake once you've found it. Climb the corner via some awkward, physical and well-protected moves (sustained 5b/5c) to easier ground (4c/5a).
5) 4c. Descend 15m down and right (it is possible to do a short abseil here) to regain the crest of the spur. Follow this for 120m of 4c climbing to a good bivi spot. One thing to bear in mind is that in dry conditions, snow (and hence water) may be hard to find anywhere near this bivi.
6) 5c. Above the bivi ledge, climb a short steep wall (5c) to reach lower-angled, broken ground. Follow this up and left to get onto the crest of the spur.
7) 5a. Climb the spur itself via some good, exposed climbing (4c/5a) to meet the final, large rock buttress below the summit.
8) Step right and head up a deep chimney, which will be mixed in anything other than the driest conditions. The chimney feels quite scary and is full of loose blocks so take your time. Three slightly nerve-wracking pitches should see you out of it.
9) Above the chimney, follow a corner system out right on flakes and more solid rock.
10) Move right of the spur and climb a short, steep corner which is often icy but is filled with helpful pegs. Above the corner, step left onto the vague crest of the spur.
11) Follow broken gullies for 80m to the summit.
Descent - Down the Grandes Jorasses South Face (page §§§). © Rockfax

Ticklists: Six classic alpine North Faces, Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif.


ClimberDateStyle
Misha 26/Aug AltLd O/S

Biggest, baddest and best Alpine experience to date. The biggest challenge is deciding to go for it, the second biggest is keeping going. And going. And going... Route was in near perfect condition - 99% of the rock was dry, while the mixed high up was in good nick. We were the only ones on the route, which added to the seriousness. Left Leschaux at 2.20am, two hours to walk in (lots of small crevasses to step over). Dave kicked off with an ice pitch out of the schrund at 4.45am to belay at the side of a large ledge where four Koreans were bivvying after retreating from the route (?!). I did a pitch on snow towards the top of the initial snow patch and after that we got on the easy rock below the snow ramp. Rock shoes on straight away. Avoided the snow ramp itself by following easy rock just below it. Some highlights... Dave did Dalle Moutonnee (not a blank slab as I thought but a traverse right and then slabby climbing on good holds), then I did the Allain Rebuffat corners (techy balancey bridging, tricky enough with a heavy sack, three star E1). Had the morning sun on that section. Afterwards we were in the shade until about 5pm when we got on the ramp below the triangular snowfield but it was never cold and my fingers were ok. Dave did the first pitch of the 75m corner, three star HVS. I did the second, also very good but a grade easier. I did the unprotected mantle and thankfully geared traverse left on the first Grey Tower pitch, about E1. Dave did the second pitch, moving from the left to the right corner - similar to the A-R corners but shorter, again E1. I linked in the next two pitches, only to find there's no belay till the second Cassin bivvy ledge, so had to build one myself (shock, horror! generally worth taking a few metre of tat as some of the belay tat is getting old). Dave did the short steep wall above and on to the crest of the spur. I then led up the slabby ramp, moving together all the way till the snowfield, reaching it at 6pm. That's where we went off route as I thought we needed to traverse right to get to the mixed in the Red Chimney, whereas actually we needed to move up and slightly left to the top of the triangular snowfield and then move right. The line we took was probably similar in difficulty but a bit longer and didn't have a bivvy ledge available... Big boots from here. Lost time moving right on the thin snow /ice as Dave only had one axe, then we did two good pitches of Scottish III/IV up what we thought was the Red Chimney, then it got dark! Kept moving up on the right side of the steep buttress, just left of the Col Mac, then followed the best line we could find by headtorch. Progress was slow and it was getting cold on the belays, so decided to stop for the night. No bivvy ledges around so ended up on a very uncomfortable sitting bivvy 150m below the top. Somehow managed to get some sleep. In the morning came across a decent bivvy ledge about a pitch above, typical! A couple of rock pitches and a mixed pitch of Scottish III/IV (back on route) got us to the top in an hour and a half, topping out at 10am into balzing sunshine. Then the descent... long, convoluted and tiring. Not helped by descending the choss below Pt Whymper, which took ages - better to go down the rocky ridge below Pt Walker. Took 6.5 hours plus a snow melting stop to get to the hut, then a 1h 20min sprint down to the valley and a half hour walk to La Palud for pizza and beer. Got a lift back to Cham straight away afterwards. Took one tech axe each plus my ski touring axe for the leader, 60m half rope (risky given chance of rockfall but there was none to speak of on the route, lots down Col Mac though), set of offsets plus nuts 1-3, double set of cams to BD red and one BD yellow. Don't rely on the RF description alone, get the new GJ guidebook which is more detailed and has several good photo topos of different sections of the route, plus the Batoux.

davkeo 26/Aug AltLd O/S

Left lescahux hut at 2.30am. Climbing at 4.45. Climbed down into begshrund and up ice/snow til we reached rock. Nice way to start. Stopped climbing at 11.30pm and had a sitting bivi 150m below summit. Ledges everywhere but none wen we wanted it typically. Finished last bit (1.5hrs) in morning and descend via snow/choss/Rock/glacier. Down in valley by 7.30pm. Hitched back thru tunnel to Cham. Best alpine route to date. Bit of everything. Mixed climbing at the top was really good with some of the rock (75m diedre) pretty memorable. Only ones on the route & descent which surprised me. Excellent weather / conditions for it. Have since looked at the topo and it seems we did a different line from about 400m below the summit to the red tower. This was all mixed ice on slab & goulette type climbing which probably cost us some time overall.

with Misha
liamo333 23/Aug -
Tom Livingstone 18/Mar AltLd

Winter ascent. 3 days on the route.

Tom Livingstone 21/Jul/15 AltLd

Started 12.35pm from first train. Reached a pitch or two beneath the Grey Tower at 3550m by 5.35pm. Bailed due to stonefall. Shame, as we were doing well.

piken 20/Jul/15 AltLd

Bivi at the bottom of the route and on the way down. Very dry and some stone fall. Great experience.

with Andy
Simon Allcock 12/Jul/15 2nd dnf
with Wilki
matt perks ??/2012 -
Chad123 18/Jul/10 AltLd O/S

Not sure if I like this alpine climbing much, but a great route nevertheless! Some memorable pitches - the Rebuffat, grey tower and above the red chimney especially. Mostly dry except one icy pitch near the top and a tricky pitch at the start to get around the shrund. Long varied descent into Italy, very glad to reach hut. Classic and memorable....

with Sam
sgl 18/Jul/10 AltLd
with chad
Hidden 01/Sep/09 AltLd
Pete Graham ?/Aug/09 AltLd
hamish2016 31/Jul/09 AltLd O/S

Excellent route but very long! Bivied on a sloping ledge by the red tower and climbed the final 200m the next morning. Quite icy on the top 400metres.

with Luke Hunt
lukehunt 31/Jul/09 AltLd

Motored up the initial two thirds, which was in dry conditions; the top third was v icy which slowed us down. Cold bivvy above grey towers

with Hamish Dunn
malx ?/Jul/09 AltLd O/S
prcleary ??/2009 Lead O/S
with Yuki
Hidden ?/Aug/06 AltLd O/S
Nick Wallis ?/Jul/06 AltLd O/S
with Martin Cooper
Justin Tracey ?/Aug/04 AltLd
with Jimdanson
Hidden ?/Jul/03 AltLd
Simon Richardson ?/Jul/92 AltLd

Continued over West Ridge and Rochefort Arete

with Guy Muhlemann
jon 03/Aug/90 Lead
with H
Hidden ?/Aug/84 AltLd
Bob ?/Jul/83 AltLd

My second alpine route.

with M. Lynch
Steve Bell ?/Jul/78 AltLd

First ascent of the season. Very icy, we needed two bivvies on the route.

with Tim Leach
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