/ Aiguille du Midi to Helbronner... how difficult?

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Tony the Blade on 07:41 Fri
Morning all,

Thinking of taking a couple of friends on this trek next week, just wondered if it's do-able?

They are both climbers but not mountaineers, last year I took them onto the MdG and they loved it so this year I wanted to take them higher.

I'm aware that you don't know my, nor their capabilities, but a general response would be great thanks.

Or is there an alternative? I'd love to take them onto the Argentière Glacier but we're too early for the 'phrique, so I'm trying hard to find something.

Cheers, Tony
MG - on 08:02 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:

The exit from AdM is intimidating for those not comfortable with exposure. After that a walk....with holes.
goatee - on 08:06 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:

The "trek" to Helbronner is entirely on glaciated terrain with all that entails. There is nothing steep to climb (unless you fall into a crevasse) but you would have to travel roped up and know about crevasse rescue techniques. Undoubtedly beautiful but also possibly technical ground.
summo on 08:14 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Height isn't everything and the route across is scenic but in heavy snow and afternoon Sun it can feel like a slog.

Why not pick a climbing route, with a short glacial approach? Aig. Moine perhaps.

Or if you really want to do the walk, climb on pyramid du tacul as you head over.

As said if they aren't frequent cramponers then the exit ridge will be fun, so good short roping skills from you. There can occasionally be a couple of big holes on the way across and some zig zagging around.
teh_mark on 09:04 Fri
In reply to MG:

I concur: as someone who occasionally isn't comfortable with exposure and is occasionally paranoid about tripping over shoelaces or cramponing trouser legs, I wasn't the happiest person ever the first time I exited the Midi lift station. That said it's not horrific, and on the way up is infinitely better than on the way down.

If your friends aren't entirely confident with exposure and are new to crampons, I'd consider carefully whether you really feel OK tied to them - and OK that you'll be able to prevent a disaster in the event of a slip or trip.
goatee - on 09:13 Fri
In reply to goatee:

Sorry. I actually forgot about the arete from the Midi. If you want to experience the high mountains try Aig Berangere. Up at around 3500mtrs, wonderful views and objectively safe.
Tony the Blade on 09:24 Fri
In reply to MG:

Yes, I agree, they have been up the AdM and said they like the idea, however experience tells me that once you get to the gate it suddenly looks very, as you say, intimidating.

Thanks, T
Tony the Blade on 09:25 Fri
In reply to goatee:

Hmm yes, given that they haven't been on a snow topped glacier I wondered about capability if a snow bridge gave way - especially vulnerable at this time of year.

Thanks, T
Tony the Blade on 09:27 Fri
In reply to summo:

Ok, point taken regarding height.

I like the idea of the climbs as part of the traverse, I'll look at them.

Thanks, T
Tony the Blade on 09:29 Fri
In reply to teh_mark:

> If your friends aren't entirely confident with exposure and are new to crampons, I'd consider carefully whether you really feel OK tied to them - and OK that you'll be able to prevent a disaster in the event of a slip or trip.

Food for thought... they may appear confident, but once they get to the gate it might be a different matter.

Whilst I'm a confident leader, I'm not 100% sure about averting a disaster with two novices on the rope.

Thanks, T
Tony the Blade on 09:30 Fri
In reply to goatee:

I'll check out the Aig Berangere... many thanks
John2 - on 09:53 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:

I once did this route in fog. It was pretty wearing negotiating the deep crevasses while maintaining a compass bearing, and locating the Torino hut at the end was not trivial.
Tony the Blade on 10:19 Fri
In reply to John2:

It sounds like rather a slog, and possibly not the best option for a day out with novices.

Maybe a walk up the G d Miage and find some sport on the walls to the left as you go up the glacier - I've doen this in the past and the glacier itself isn't a great deal of fun, especially the hard walking over the moraine, but we had great fun on a variety of snowy ice climbs on the rock walls.
HammondR on 11:22 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:
Mr the Blade

It is now a couple of weeks since I was up there. However, unless there has been a significant unseasonal change in conditions, I would not fancy glacier travel on foot at those altitudes. It is still very much the ski touring season, and for good reason. There is a every chance that you would spend much of your time wading up to your knees. If you and your team can ski, it is a nice light tour across to Helbronner, or the other way. Safer across snow bridges on skis too.

Check the Chamoniarde website, or the Office de Haute Montagne for conditions.
Tony the Blade on 11:30 Fri
In reply to HammondR:

Thank you sir, I appreciate the local intel.

Yes, a trip to the OdHM is in order for other days (VF etc), so I will certainly check regarding high altitude info.

Many thanks, Tony
jon on 11:54 Fri
In reply to Tony the Blade:

It's true May is a little early to guarantee finding good hard transformed snow to walk on, but it is possible. However, walking down the arête tied to two novices is not a lot of fun if they get scared. A good plan (though only feasible when the Midi - Helbronner telecabine is open and therefore maybe for future reference) is to do it in the other direction. Take the telecabine across and walk back. It's a bit harder as there's more uphill but you get to see the state of the traverse through the crevassed area and more importantly, the Midi arête is a lot less intimidating in ascent, and by the time you get there they'll be used to their crampons etc. https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=139775

If, after starting out from Helbronner it's clear that it's going to be a little too much for them you can hang a left and walk up to the Col d'Entrèves for a spectacular view, then retrace your steps, coming back via either the telecabine or tunnel. Of course you can do it in that direction at any time of the year by simply going though the tunnel, but you miss out on checking out the itinerary.
nb - on 18:51 Fri
In reply to jon:
Was about to say the same thing

Also next week, snow shoes might be handy!

Edit: Midi to Helbronner cablecar opens on 25th May. Otherwise there's the option of a bus through the tunnel into Italy, then up to Helbronner from there.
Post edited at 18:56
Tony the Blade on 17:56 Mon
In reply to jon:

Hi Jon,

Thanks for that, a great idea and one that I might just use depending on weather etc.

Great photo by the way
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Tony the Blade on 17:58 Mon
In reply to nb:

Hmm, more food for thought. Snowshoes might be a good option.

Is it cheaper to get the bus through the tunnel (3 of us) and ride up on the 'phrique? Or Up the AdM and across? I could check, but if you know to hand then that's great as it saves me yet more research ;-)

Thanks, Tony

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