Rockfax Description
360m. The most popular start to the best known route on the face, this is about the only line around here where you might expect to have some company. The climbing is superb until the last few pitches (which are a bit loose) and the route provides an excellent mid-grade adventure, albeit a bold one in places.
Approach - Leave the Index chairlift and go straight uphill, past Aiguille de la Glière - Lower Buttress to reach a vague path leading to the foot of a 30m high tower (the Gendarme Wehrlin). Go around this to the left (loose) and then go back above it and continue up until level with the top of the tower, at which point cut across the snow/scree slope to the left. Go over a rounded ridge and across another snow slope before cutting up to a col immediately right of a distinctive finger of rock (the Doigt de la Glière). Descend diagonally down and left for 50m on the far side of the col to reach a 10m long, narrow gully facing rightwards. Go down this and then descend gradually rightwards to reach the Pouce Cwm, which may well be a snowfield all summer but can be dry in late season after a hot spell. Cross this and make directly for your route. Allow 1-2 hours for the approach.
1) 3c. Follow the slab easily leftwards.
2) 5b. Continue leftwards across the slab and then go straight up to a grassy terrace, 5m to the left of a corner. It is easy to stray too far leftwards here but stay right.
The Classic Start - This is now rarely climbed but does go at about the same level of difficulty. Climb the slab and crack above to a corner followed by a slab and bolted belay. Traverse right to join the parent line on pitch 2. Pitches are - 5c, 4c, 5b.
3) 5b. Take the left-hand of two twin cracks and then (ignoring the line of bolts which goes straight up from the cracks - this is the rarely climbed Revers de la Médaille) traverse rightwards across a vague scoop. The belay is hard to spot until you're almost on it but keep going rightwards and you'll find it hidden behind a shoulder.
4) 5c. Climb the right-leaning crack above the belay and then easier ground diagonally leftwards to an exposed ledge.
5) 5c. Continue up the slab on the right and through a small overlap with a peg in it. Above this, follow the thin crack to where it peters out and then climb right to a belay just above a huge block with a series of smaller rocks jammed behind it.
6) 5a. Downclimb a metre and then climb a flake-crack heading up diagonally rightwards. There is the odd bolt but, if this is near your limit it will feel bold and exposed. When the flakes run out, follow a 5m corner (two pegs) straight up to a bolt belay.
7) 5b. Traverse diagonally left up a break then go straight up for 5m where this peters out. The exposure on this pitch is breathtaking so (if you dare) try to look down and savour it.
8) 4c. Head straight up broken ground to reach a grassy terrace.
9) 5a. Take the groove above and right of the belay and then cross a series of grassy ledges to a belay below and 5m right of a grey corner.
10) 5a. Move left and climb the grey corner. Where this widens, step right and follow a short, easy slab to a belay on a ledge.
Above this, head back left and climb the easy, broken groove above. Follow this for two or three pitches to the summit, drifting gradually rightwards to avoid anything that looks difficult. Don't be tempted out right by the occasional appealing-looking ramp - all of these blank out and you need to stick with the groove all the way to the top.
Descent - From the summit of the Pouce, descend the ridge eastwards in the direction of the Aiguille de la Glière. The first two large towers are passed on the left via a vague path (look out for cairns) around 50m below the towers, which takes in some unpleasant loose ground. Once past the two large towers, stay on the left until the ground steepens. At this point you cut up to the ridge crest and stay on or close to this all the way back to the approach col just next to the Doigt de la Glière. From here, descend the approach route. Allow at least 2 hours from the summit back to the chairlift. The ridge traverse back to the col is loose and exposed in places so don't rush. © Rockfax

Ticklists: Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif.


ClimberDateStyle
Jack00 03/Aug AltLd O/S

Led pitches 4,5,9,10,11

with Rob Sandercock
Hidden 29/Jul AltLd O/S
jameslomax 11/Jul AltLd dog

Went off route leading second pitch, took a big fall which ripped out a piton, ended up falling at least 15m before being caught by a sling on a bit of rock, quite bruised and sore but it seemed to have done more damage to my gear than me. After this my confidence was severely affected and I let Omar do all the hard leading, which he did very well despite getting off route a couple of times. I also "french free'd" a little more than was probably necessary since most of the climbing should've been within my ability. Protection is very sparse - even more so now that I've ripped out a piton - I'm really sorry about that! Sometimes the line of bolts looks tempting but is usually for much harder pitches. Descent was quite scary, especially in the mist - take pictures of the ridge before to get an idea for features to look out for, also when you reach the dome of broken rock do not descend down the ridge immediately perpendicular on the right, keep going around the right side of the dome and then follow the ridge to reach the col to descend to the index - shouldn't be an issue on a clear day. Had a really nice bivvy under the stars after we got off the route.

with Omar Shah
Duncan 88 04/Jul AltLd
Hidden 04/Jul AltLd O/S
Climbingspike ??/2017 -
bencoope 12/Aug/16 AltLd O/S
ChambersPP ?/Jul/16 -
davkeo 26/Aug/15 Lead O/S

Approach 1.5hrs. 6hr on route. Depart de guides start. First half is quite sustained and airy/bold in spots. Route finding can b tricky. A fine route.

cearbhalld 26/Aug/15 2nd

Camped at top of Index lift for an alpine start. Started route at 7am. Went off-route trying to lead P3 despite guidebook warning and arrived back at the belay sooner than expected. Retired from pointy end of proceedings after that.

Tim Sparrow 22/Aug/15 -

Made the common mistake of missing the traverse left at Gendarme Wehrlin on the approach and lost a bit of time. 3 French parties followed us and then some serious head scratching from us all until mistake realised. Used Depart des Guides start. Great climbing all way on compact rock, plenty of fixed gear to head for but you need to supplement it too. Felt quite serious on early pitches but relaxed into it. 1 hr 20 summit to Index and made it with 5 mins spare!

with Geoff Thomas
Hidden 11/Aug/15 Lead O/S
Palindrome 11/Aug/15 2nd O/S
chapmand 31/Jul/15 AltLd O/S

Started climbing at 10am, topped out at 4pm. Back down to the car by 7:30pm after missing the last lift.

plain kitten ??/2015 -
ollyroberts 28/Aug/14 Lead O/S
Andrew Sandercock 05/Aug/14 AltLd

Slow on the approach due to missing the ramp by the gendarme (a common mistake apparently) and a small wait due to uncertainties about weather. Al lead up until the traverse round the corner (I'm useless at slabs). I lead out the traverse and it began to rain, and continued to pour down on and off for the rest of the route - the face often dripping wet. Managed to pass the difficulties onto easier ground which seem to continue for a lot longer than guidebook suggests (we may have been too far right but reaching the summit still took 3 long pitches - 2 of which 60m). We think the Picola guide's given height of 350m is short, the Rebuffat says 450 and others 400. Return along west ridge was slow as visibility was very low due to low cloud - a problem we'd encountered all day. 15 hours Index - index. Long missed the last bin home. Nb, for those approaching the Pouce; the ramp is to the left of the isolated wehrlin gendarme and marked with cairns - not 20m up like the Picola guide suggests. This will massively reduce the walk in and avoids some rather stressful choss scrambling. Also, the approach can be done without axes or crampons at this time.

with Al Blackshaw
mike mo ??/2014 -
Hidden ??/2014 AltLd O/S
fulton333 01/Aug/13 AltLd

Fantastic! First lift up and back on the lift at 4.30 despite a route finding error early in the day. The odd bolt here and there but mainly old pegs and trad gear.

with Matt
Hidden 01/Aug/13 -
Hidden ?/Aug/13 2nd
Stuart Johnston 01/Jul/13 Lead O/S

Did it from first lift. 1.5 hours to base of route. 6.5h for route, 2.5h to traverse the ridge. Ages to walk down to the valley! Lead all but one pitches.

with Sadie Renwick
jcw ??/2013 -
monsteratt 15/Sep/12 AltLd O/S

Nice granite slabs, quite bold in places. Good route. Did in good time (9 hours) from a nice, but cold bivi at the col. Back in time for cable car.

with Tom
demarcation86 15/Sep/12 AltLd O/S

Took us 9 hours from bivi at col back to the cable car. Good route.

with Monty
markfairbank 07/Sep/12 AltLd dnf

EPIC...Dave led first 2 pitches, i then led p3 and 4 which felt like HVS 5a (ish) then Paul took over for p5.... got off route and attempted down climb above gear resulted in ankle breaking fall :( ...MR called out and we got choppered off. Still not sure i can quite believe it!! Upto there it was a great route that was very enjoyable... will go back at some point...

with Paul Sheehan, Dave Brown
Mountain Llama 07/Sep/12 AltLd dnf

Approach longer than expected at 2.5hrs and difficulty finding correct descent route from col. Climbing felt quite stiff and gaps between gear placement long on 2nd pitch. Only made it to P5 when Pail took a tumble and broke his ankle.

with Mark & Paul
Ashley Hold ?/Sep/12 AltLd
Hidden ?/Sep/12 AltLd
Ashley Hold 28/Aug/12 AltLd
Ewan Russell 17/Jul/12 AltLd O/S

climbed in 2 twos. ended up taking 16 hours got quite lost on way off the ridge and were slow as a 4.

with gwen, james wilson, Anna
Hidden 17/Jul/12 AltLd O/S
Wils 17/Jul/12 AltLd O/S
Mike Hood 04/Jul/12 AltLd
Hidden 25/Sep/11 AltLd O/S
Drew M ?/Sep/11 AltLd
Hidden ??/2011 -
tumbling wizard ?/Aug/10 -
with andrew marshall
Hidden ?/Aug/10 -
Si ?/Aug/10 AltLd
with Greg
darren hudson 31/Jul/10 AltLd dnf

looks great, had problems finding the route which put us back too late to climb on so bailed and bivied, but weather was against us the next day. Access is important, turned round earlier in week due to wrong equipment. returned with crampons and axes and watched 2 other parties turn round. 2 days later saw people access in trainers after the snow had melted. Big climb.

with David Ford
Brannock ?/Jul/10 Lead
Guy Wilson ??/2010 -
Henrik 19/Aug/09 AltLd O/S
with Josef + Joakim
Andy Clarke 29/Jul/09 AltLd O/S

A superb route and a very memorable big day out. Bivvied at Index the previous evening so we could make an early start - unfortunately, due to me mistranslating the guidebook headed entirely the wrong way along the main ridge. Took several heart-stopping excursions onto uncharted death scree before we realised our mistake. When we finally found it, the climb proved excellent, featuring both bold slabs and pumpy cracks. Took ages to scramble back to main ridge - probably took too high a line (yours truly's route finding again!). 16 hours all told. Second bivvy, feasting on the single Pepperami which was all we had left to eat. Food of champions. Led Ps 3,5&6,8,10,13 (ish).

with Rob
Franco Cookson OLD 31/Jul/08 AltLd O/S

went a bit off route and ended on an Ed f7a, 6c oblig, but managed to get back on to this one with a traverse. did the crux though.:-)

with Ralf
hamish2016 ?/Jul/08 AltLd

Got a bit off route and had to do any awesome pendulum to get back on route! Really fun route.

with chris burn
Hidden ?/Sep/05 Lead
liz j ?/Sep/04 2nd
with neil brodie
ian bryant ?/Aug/03 Lead O/S
with rod
Hidden 16/Aug/02 Lead O/S
dan gibson ?/Aug/02 AltLd O/S
with brian(aussie)
Hidden ?/Jul/02 AltLd
bandersnatch ??/2000 Lead
with Mairi B
Hidden ?/Aug/98 -
Jim Walton 23/Jul/98 AltLd O/S
with Matthew Stammers
Guy ?/Aug/97 AltLd O/S
with Adrian
John Bunney ??/1997 AltLd

With Mark Helliwell years ago

bandersnatch ??/1996 Lead
with Mairi B
Hidden ??/1995 -
Hidden ?/Jun/94 AltLd O/S
Dave Musgrove Jnr 17/Sep/92 AltLd

Fantastic Experience w Tom and Danny

auld al ?/Jul/92 AltLd O/S
Pete_Frost ?/Jul/91 AltLd O/S

Beautiful route.

with Ellie Barnes
Hidden ??/1991 -
bobelvedere 15/Jul/90 AltLd
with Andreas Frey
Hidden ?/Aug/86 AltLd
alpinist63 30/Jul/81 AltLd
Hidden ?/Sep/80 -
granitbahn ?/Aug/75 Lead
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