Rockfax Description
II, 170m, 3 - 4 hours. The route begins with the famous Etala Chimneys.
Approach - From the Plan de l'Aiguille, take the path to Lac Bleu then follow a vague track climbing eastwards, directly towards the Petits Charmoz. Cross the moraine beneath the Glacier de Blaitière following the line of least resistance (and the occasional cairn) to reach the ridge coming down from the northwest ridge of the Aiguille de Blaitière. Cross the next bowl (more boulders but easier than the Blaitière moraine) in the direction of the Charmoz to reach the ridge overlooking the foot of the Nantillons Glacier. The glacier is extremely prone to rockfall and, although it can be crossed high up, it is usually worth the extra effort of descending slightly and crossing level with the southwest ridge of the Aiguille de l'M - whichever way you cross, don't dawdle. Having crossed the glacier snout, head towards the Grands Charmoz before turning left and scrambling up the loose but straightforward ground beneath the Col de L'Etala.
1) Climb the right-hand chimney with as much style as you can muster to reach a large ledge. There are two well-placed pegs protecting the tricky moves. Climb the corner on the right before stepping left onto a slab and climbing the steep and tight chimney above (easier than it looks) which has a good peg.
2) Follow easy but loose ground to the Col de l'Etala.
3) 4c. Head north towards a pyramid of red rock on the ridge leading to the Petits Charmoz. Climb this, initially on the left, before moving back right to head straight for the 'livre ouvert' (open book) pitch. This is the technical crux of the route and features a physical rockover onto a ledge which is well protected by pegs.
4) Follow the crack above to a good ledge and then stick to the ridge crest, or just off it on the Mer de Glace side. Follow easy but exposed scrambling for 50m to reach a distinct notch with a superb view down to the Nantillons Glacier.
5) At the notch, pass onto the Nantillons side and reach a slabby ledge beneath the summit of the peak.
6) 4a. Climb to the summit via a steep, polished (but technically easy) chimney, a left-leaning corner and a short slab.
Descent - Abseil back down to the slabby ledge in one 25m abseil (fixed anchor on the summit). A combination of downclimbing and abseils (fixed belays of varying quality) leads you to the couloir coming down from the Col de la Bûche. This can be joined at various stages, so follow your nose. Stay on the left bank of this to where it becomes a good path. Follow this to the top of the ladders which take you back to the glacier. © Rockfax

UKC Logbook Description
A highly reccomended little route which is extremely popular. The granite, though sound, is often very polished and the ascent to the Col de l'Etala provides a classic initiation into the delights of the typical 'Chamonix' chimney!

M Pasteur, J Wicks and C Wilson 05/Jul/1898

Ticklists: Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif, Rosie's Broken Alpine Dreaming.

Hidden 25/Sep AltLd
steve_gibbs 29/Aug Lead O/S
with Hannah
jakeepictv 27/Aug -
maxsmith 26/Aug 2nd

Highlight of the chamonix trip for me. We took the Montenvers path and ascended directly to the route instead of crossing the glacier but the approach was still pretty scary. Rewarded by fantastic climbing/scrambling on the ridge with great views and positions. Took 8 hours aller-retour from plan de l'aiguille.

Michael 18/Aug -
Hidden 01/Aug Lead O/S
Robbie Blease 29/Jul AltLd

Really nice route! A shame the approach and descent is a little dodgy.

Orange 29/Jul AltLd
Timothy Miller 12/Jul AltLd O/S
EuanM 26/Aug/16 Lead

Great route with fantastic exposure and situation. The first chimney felt tough for the grade. A long day with a walk back to Chamonix.

Nath93 19/Aug/16 Solo dnf

Logging for memory more than anything else as we didn't even get to the start. Nantillions glacier is in a bad state right now, with rocks coming down from mid morning onwards, best get across early. Also, ladders are further left (looking at the crag) than the new Rockfax guide shows in topo. Ran away with my tail between my legs after seeing a car sized block come down the lower glacier where someone had crossed ten minutes earlier. Shame as it looks like a great wee adventure. With Jordan.

Hidden 01/Aug/16 AltLd
Hidden 29/Jul/16 AltLd O/S
Heather Osborne 29/Jul/16 AltLd

Loved the chimneys, though got a bit stuck in the first one with my rucksack, and didn't spot a handy peg. Brilliant route, even better than it looks in the guide, despite an uninspiring start.

JezzaCat 25/Jul/16 Lead O/S
with Stella
Tony Ryland 20/Jul/16 AltLd
with Philip Burgess
CraigOsborne ?/Jul/16 -

Brilliant day out!

JezzaCat 17/Jul/15 -
Gumery 02/Jul/15 Lead O/S
Hidden 11/Jun/15 Solo
Hidden 17/Sep/14 AltLd O/S
Dawn_K_B 20/Jun/14 2nd dnf

If I wasn't so haggard it would have been amazing! Thanks to Ben Jem and Tom for putting up with me/making sure I didn't collapse!

benkelsey 20/Jun/14 Lead dnf

Dawn was recovering from Illness but wanted to do some snow. glorious day. got to the rocky step onto the ridge proper and realised she was suffering. abbed off and managed to get her down for last lift, just! Perfect active rest day after Eugster Diagonal and Frendo..!?

with Jem Greenway, Dawn_K_B, Teappleby
Teappleby 20/Jun/14 AltLd dnf

walked across from the midi, Dawn was feeling under the weather so we were slow and so turned back at the chimneys below the ridge.

JemG 20/Jun/14 AltLd dnf
Hidden 21/Jul/13 AltLd
walts4 ??/2013 -
jcw ??/2013 -
freeheel47 ??/2013 AltLd
Tobias at Home ??/2013 -
Hidden 23/Sep/12 AltLd
Hidden 21/Aug/12 AltLd
John Workman 01/Aug/12 Lead

Great wee climb. The approach and the descent are also good.

with Andy M
Hidden 22/Aug/11 -
Greg Boswell 31/Jul/11 Solo O/S
Karl Wooffindin 01/Aug/10 AltLd O/S


with Ollie Hemstock
Hidden 01/Aug/10 AltLd O/S
Guy Wilson ??/2010 -
keith leonard ??/2010 -
Bristoldave ?/Aug/09 Lead
Teappleby ?/Aug/09 AltLd
with mum, Sarah, dad
CarolineH ?/Aug/09 -
with Dave
Hidden ?/Jul/09 AltLd
sam820 23/Jun/09 2nd
BorisVBlade 23/Jun/09 AltLd O/S
with Neil Dowse, Sam Davies
Neil D ?/Jun/09 AltLd dog
Gibbo ?/Jul/08 AltLd
with Tom Gibbison
Hidden 31/Aug/07 AltLd O/S
decs 01/Aug/07 -
with Mike
localboy 05/Jul/07 2nd O/S

A little harder than the guide suggested, and watch the description in the guide as it may not always be correct!

with Chris H, Simon F
Hidden 19/Jun/07 AltLd O/S
JonHarvey 19/Jun/07 AltLd O/S

Good route ,, views spectacular, great summit ,, horrid descent!

with Jay Jackson, Sharon Hooper
31770 19/Jun/07 AltLd O/S
Hidden 19/Jun/07 AltLd
Hidden 17/Jun/07 AltLd
Hidden 17/Jun/07 AltLd O/S
shazhooper ?/Jun/07 -
with Jon Harvey, Jay Jackson
tom.e 12/Jul/06 -
with Charlie Everett
SteveM 21/Aug/04 AltLd
with Tobs
clams ??/2004 -
with AD
Hidden 27/Jun/03 AltLd
Mark Salter 11/Apr/02 AltLd
with Chris Shorrock
net ?/Aug/01 -
with Jeb
Paul-Michael 19/Jul/01 AltLd O/S

From the Refuge du Plan. One point of aid was used on each of the 2 chimneys, and 2 points on the diere.

fellgazelle ?/Sep/99 -

Had a mini epic. Set off way too late, totally underestimated it, arrived on the summit as darkness was falling. By the time we reached the Col De La Buche it was dark. Spent a fun few hours finding our way down the Nantillons without headtorches! We were so green.

with Alan Haigh
rachm2004 29/Jul/98 2nd
with Ian L
craig h ?/Aug/94 AltLd
with Jim Mellor
Duncan I ?/Aug/94 -

Rained all the way along it

with Sarah
Hidden ?/Jul/93 Solo
tjekel ??/1993 -
Hidden 01/Aug/90 AltLd O/S
Pete_Frost ?/Jul/90 AltLd O/S
with Luc Percival
auld al ?/Jul/90 AltLd O/S
mark-abz ?/Aug/88 AltLd
with Andy W
gallonj ?/Jul/88 -
Maarten2 ??/1988 Lead

Expo camp. Did in full Alpine style - rock boots would have been way faster....

freeheel47 ?/Jul/87 AltLd
Robmwatt ??/1984 AltLd
with Gaz Morgan
Richard Weller ?/Aug/80 -
with Richard White
Hidden ??/1980 Solo
Nigel Bond 24/Aug/79 Lead
with Martin Crosby
Andy Chubb 18/Jul/76 AltLd
with Pete Coghill
Bolt Phobia 29/Jul/75 Lead
with Kit Spencer, Nicole
Rob Davies ?/Jul/75 AltLd

Raining on top

with Dennis Whiteley (ICMC), Niall Macfadyen
Hidden 17/Aug/73 -
Climbingspike ??/1972 -
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