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

Feedback

UserDateNotes
FreeloaderJoe 16 Sep Show βeta
βeta: The approach to this route via the glacier and moraine is utterly miserable. Not sure it is worth doing with conditions as they are. Don't be tempted by the endless cool lines/chimneys/gear/tat and other misadventure on the way up to the first Col - you will regret it. Difficult route finding on way down. Make sure you know where you are in relation to the rouge gendarme before attempting descent.
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: The approach to this route via the glacier and moraine is utterly miserable. Not sure it is worth doing with conditions as they are. Don't be tempted by the endless cool lines/chimneys/gear/tat and other misadventure on the way up to the first Col - you will regret it. Difficult route finding on way down. Make sure you know where you are in relation to the rouge gendarme before attempting descent.
rurp 26 Jul Show βeta
βeta: Don’t downclimb far. Turn right facing out (west) and head to the col with the m then easy down from there
 
Show beta
βeta: Don’t downclimb far. Turn right facing out (west) and head to the col with the m then easy down from there
iainJ 11 Jul Show βeta
βeta: Ab back down the slab from the top (one pitch) then scramble down rather than doing three abbs off the back of the summit.
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: Ab back down the slab from the top (one pitch) then scramble down rather than doing three abbs off the back of the summit.
Login as Existing User to add your feedback

Logged Ascents

User Date Style Notes & Partners
Hidden 31 Aug Lead
morpcat 18 Aug AltLd O/S Approach fine, rockfall minimal in the morning. Chimneys provided interesting sport. Accidentally bypassed the crux due to vague and misleading guidebook info. Not the first to do so as the bypass had lots of tat and polish. Beautiful views and amazing top-out. Descent scrambling was loose, did 6 (?) abseils, most have new tat. Ladders further down than you think. Rockfall on glacier appreciably worse in afternoon. Just made last lift.
Approach fine, rockfall minimal in the morning. Chimneys provided interesting sport. Accidentally bypassed the crux due to vague and misleading guidebook info. Not the first to do so as the bypass had lots of tat and polish. Beautiful views and amazing top-out. Descent scrambling was loose, did 6 (?) abseils, most have new tat. Ladders further down than you think. Rockfall on glacier appreciably worse in afternoon. Just made last lift.
gscw 18 Aug AltLd Cable car to cable car - 11 hour day!
with Ed
Cable car to cable car - 11 hour day!
with Ed
Goran Glumac 6 Aug AltLd O/S Phisically hard chimneys. Rest is great climbing. Amazing view of Mer de Glace. 2:45h, moved together
Phisically hard chimneys. Rest is great climbing. Amazing view of Mer de Glace. 2:45h, moved together
Albe 3 Aug AltLd
Street 3 Aug -
rurp 25 Jul Lead O/S 170m?!!! It’s about 500. Maybe 170 where you would want to place gear. Fantastic route, down before the storm. Ladders are brilliant. Chimneys are like grit v diffs with a rucksack,
with ben rowland
170m?!!! It’s about 500. Maybe 170 where you would want to place gear. Fantastic route, down before the storm. Ladders are brilliant. Chimneys are like grit v diffs with a rucksack,
with ben rowland
kbow265 24 Jul -
Helzt 18 Jul 2nd O/S Approach is a beast, as is descent. Altitude hit me hard and had to skip the last summit.
Approach is a beast, as is descent. Altitude hit me hard and had to skip the last summit.
TreseB 18 Jul AltLd Split the first pitch in two due to quite technical chimneys. Exposed scrambling on the Mer de Glace side of the ridge from the top of the second (our third) pitch to the base of the main top. Dropped this as time was running from us. Ok scrambling down to Col de la Buche.
Split the first pitch in two due to quite technical chimneys. Exposed scrambling on the Mer de Glace side of the ridge from the top of the second (our third) pitch to the base of the main top. Dropped this as time was running from us. Ok scrambling down to Col de la Buche.
Hidden 17 Jul -
Hidden 16 Jul Lead O/S
Hidden 14 Jul -
Hidden 6 Jul Lead
iainJ 6 Jul Lead O/S Good route, got sandbagged by a french guide who sent us off up the wrong (much harder) way.
Good route, got sandbagged by a french guide who sent us off up the wrong (much harder) way.
jackob 6 Jul AltLd In big boots! Descent took longer than anticipated with around 7 abs and some stuck ropes!
In big boots! Descent took longer than anticipated with around 7 abs and some stuck ropes!
Connorh 6 Jul AltLd O/S
SophieWalker 6 Jul 2nd
with iainJ
with iainJ
Aislinn_sun ?Jul AltLd
esther ?Jul AltLd
Aled Williams 29 Jun -
with Hero Pete
with Hero Pete
Hidden ?? -
8PetrieC 28 Aug, 2018 AltLd O/S
Tom McCabe 28 Aug, 2018 Lead O/S
08nbrierley 26 Aug, 2018 -
with Jack
with Jack
QuentinSu 22 Aug, 2018 Lead
Johnathan 17 Aug, 2018 AltLd dnf Went off of poor information - attempted too late in the season when it was out of condition and had been for months. The boulder field was very active and the glacier melting. Went off route and found to be incredibly chossy. Abseiled and escaped.
Went off of poor information - attempted too late in the season when it was out of condition and had been for months. The boulder field was very active and the glacier melting. Went off route and found to be incredibly chossy. Abseiled and escaped.
Richard Alderton 29 Jul, 2018 - A lot of unpleasant scrambling to reach the 'traditional' Etala Chimneys, then more above. Better to do the SW Pillar then join the ridge from there if you have time. The ab from just below the summit is currently on very dodgy tat. We would have re-equipped but didn't have enough (needs at least 7-8m).
with Cameron
A lot of unpleasant scrambling to reach the 'traditional' Etala Chimneys, then more above. Better to do the SW Pillar then join the ridge from there if you have time. The ab from just below the summit is currently on very dodgy tat. We would have re-equipped but didn't have enough (needs at least 7-8m).
with Cameron
alasdaircavaye 30 Jun, 2018 AltLd O/S Some what of an epic. Started a bit too late, exhausted before the start. Probably went off line a lot as noted by the hard climbing. Took a bit too long and got back to glacier where we had to relay an sos from the hillside. Crossed glacier at dusk and got to bivvy at dark. Very tiring and hot.
with Kieran Cobell, Ethan
Some what of an epic. Started a bit too late, exhausted before the start. Probably went off line a lot as noted by the hard climbing. Took a bit too long and got back to glacier where we had to relay an sos from the hillside. Crossed glacier at dusk and got to bivvy at dark. Very tiring and hot.
with Kieran Cobell, Ethan
Ethan.Jenkins.09 29 Jun, 2018 AltLd
Petarghh 19 Jun, 2018 AltLd O/S
Hidden ?Jun, 2018 AltLd
Hidden 25 Sep, 2017 AltLd O/S
Deary65 25 Sep, 2017 Lead O/S Had a warm welcome to the route in the form of a steaming shit on the first ledge approaching the chimneys. Thanks. Rest of the route was great. Think I wandered off route a bit (delirious from methane) and ended up on some spicy sections!
Had a warm welcome to the route in the form of a steaming shit on the first ledge approaching the chimneys. Thanks. Rest of the route was great. Think I wandered off route a bit (delirious from methane) and ended up on some spicy sections!
steve_gibbs 29 Aug, 2017 Lead O/S
with Hannah
with Hannah
jakeepictv 27 Aug, 2017 -
maxsmith 26 Aug, 2017 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.
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, 2017 -
Hidden 1 Aug, 2017 Lead O/S
Rob Moorcroft ?Aug, 2017 2nd
with Richard Ive
with Richard Ive
Robbie Blease 29 Jul, 2017 AltLd Really nice route! A shame the approach and descent is a little dodgy.
Really nice route! A shame the approach and descent is a little dodgy.
Linus Osorio 29 Jul, 2017 AltLd
JohnHartley 29 Jul, 2017 AltLd
mim tiller 12 Jul, 2017 AltLd O/S
EuanM 26 Aug, 2016 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.
Great route with fantastic exposure and situation. The first chimney felt tough for the grade. A long day with a walk back to Chamonix.
Nathan Adam 19 Aug, 2016 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.
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 1 Aug, 2016 AltLd
Hidden 29 Jul, 2016 AltLd O/S
Heather Osborne 29 Jul, 2016 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.
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, 2016 Lead O/S
Stella Baylis 25 Jul, 2016 2nd
Tony Ryland 20 Jul, 2016 AltLd
with Philip Burgess
with Philip Burgess
CraigOsborne ?Jul, 2016 - Brilliant day out!
Brilliant day out!
JezzaCat 17 Jul, 2015 Lead
Stella Baylis 17 Jul, 2015 2nd
Gumery 2 Jul, 2015 Lead O/S
Hidden 11 Jun, 2015 Solo
Andy Lagan 17 Sep, 2014 AltLd O/S
Dawn_K_B 20 Jun, 2014 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!
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, 2014 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..!?
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..!?
Teappleby 20 Jun, 2014 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.
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, 2014 AltLd dnf
James Gordon 21 Jul, 2013 AltLd
Hidden 21 Jul, 2013 AltLd
walts4 ??, 2013 -
jcw ??, 2013 -
freeheel47 ??, 2013 AltLd
Tobias at Home ??, 2013 -
Hidden 23 Sep, 2012 AltLd
Hidden 21 Aug, 2012 AltLd
John Workman 1 Aug, 2012 Lead Great wee climb. The approach and the descent are also good.
with Andy M
Great wee climb. The approach and the descent are also good.
with Andy M
Hidden 22 Aug, 2011 -
Greg Boswell 31 Jul, 2011 Solo O/S
Karl Wooffindin 1 Aug, 2010 AltLd O/S Superb.
with Ollie Hemstock
Superb.
with Ollie Hemstock
Hidden 1 Aug, 2010 AltLd O/S
Guy Wilson ??, 2010 -
keith leonard ??, 2010 -
Bristoldave ?Aug, 2009 Lead
Teappleby ?Aug, 2009 AltLd
with mum, Sarah, dad
with mum, Sarah, dad
CarolineH ?Aug, 2009 -
davepc ?Jul, 2009 AltLd
with Mike
with Mike
sam820 23 Jun, 2009 2nd
BorisVBlade 23 Jun, 2009 AltLd O/S
with Neil Dowse, Sam Davies
with Neil Dowse, Sam Davies
Neil D ?Jun, 2009 AltLd dog
Gibbo ?Jul, 2008 AltLd
with Tom Gibbison
with Tom Gibbison
Hidden 31 Aug, 2007 AltLd O/S
decs 1 Aug, 2007 -
localboy 5 Jul, 2007 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, simonf
A little harder than the guide suggested, and watch the description in the guide as it may not always be correct!
with Chris H, simonf
Hidden 19 Jun, 2007 AltLd O/S
JonHarvey 19 Jun, 2007 AltLd O/S Good route ,, views spectacular, great summit ,, horrid descent!
with Jay Jackson, Sharon Hooper
Good route ,, views spectacular, great summit ,, horrid descent!
with Jay Jackson, Sharon Hooper
31770 19 Jun, 2007 AltLd O/S
Hidden 19 Jun, 2007 AltLd
Hidden 17 Jun, 2007 AltLd
Hidden 17 Jun, 2007 AltLd O/S
shazhooper ?Jun, 2007 -
with Jon Harvey, Jay Jackson
with Jon Harvey, Jay Jackson
tom.e 12 Jul, 2006 -
with Charlie Everett
with Charlie Everett
Misha ??, 2006 -
with UCPA
with UCPA
SteveM 21 Aug, 2004 AltLd
manmike ?Jul, 2004 AltLd
clams ??, 2004 -
with AD
with AD
Hidden 27 Jun, 2003 AltLd
Mark Salter 11 Apr, 2002 AltLd
with Chris Shorrock
with Chris Shorrock
net ?Aug, 2001 -
with Jeb
with Jeb
Paul-Michael 19 Jul, 2001 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.
From the Refuge du Plan. One point of aid was used on each of the 2 chimneys, and 2 points on the diere.
Cuillin Calling 19 Jul, 2001 AltLd
fellgazelle ?Sep, 1999 - 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
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, 1998 2nd
with Ian L
with Ian L
craig h ?Aug, 1994 AltLd
with Jim Mellor
with Jim Mellor
Duncan I ?Aug, 1994 - Rained all the way along it
with Sarah
Rained all the way along it
with Sarah
Rich Cross - Alpine Guides ?Jul, 1993 Solo
tjekel ??, 1993 -
Hidden 1 Aug, 1990 AltLd O/S
Pete_Frost ?Jul, 1990 AltLd O/S
with Luc Percival
with Luc Percival
auld al ?Jul, 1990 AltLd O/S
mark-abz ?Aug, 1988 AltLd
with Andy W
with Andy W
gallonj ?Jul, 1988 -
Maarten2 ??, 1988 Lead Expo camp. Did in full Alpine style - rock boots would have been way faster....
Expo camp. Did in full Alpine style - rock boots would have been way faster....
freeheel47 ?Jul, 1987 AltLd
bobelvedere 14 Jul, 1986 Lead
with Birgitte Ilsø Klinkby
with Birgitte Ilsø Klinkby
Neil McA 14 Jul, 1984 AltLd O/S
with Andy Perkins
with Andy Perkins
Robmwatt ??, 1984 AltLd
with Gaz Morgan
with Gaz Morgan
Richard Weller ?Aug, 1980 -
with Richard White
with Richard White
Hidden ??, 1980 Solo
Nigel Bond 24 Aug, 1979 Lead
with Martin Crosby
with Martin Crosby
DonnyDave 15 Jul, 1978 AltLd My first "Aiguille side" Alpine route.
with Marilyn Banks, Ray Banks, Joyce Sixsmith
My first "Aiguille side" Alpine route.
with Marilyn Banks, Ray Banks, Joyce Sixsmith
Hidden ?Aug, 1976 -
Andy Chubb 18 Jul, 1976 AltLd
with Pete Coghill
with Pete Coghill
Bolt Phobia 29 Jul, 1975 Lead
with Kit Spencer, Nicole
with Kit Spencer, Nicole
Rob Davies ?Jul, 1975 AltLd Raining on top
with Dennis Whiteley (ICMC), Niall Macfadyen
Raining on top
with Dennis Whiteley (ICMC), Niall Macfadyen
cenotaphcorner ?Aug, 1974 2nd O/S
with Paul Ingham
with Paul Ingham
Hidden 17 Aug, 1973 -
Climbingspike ??, 1972 -
41 users have this on their wishlist
Voting
High AD+
Mid AD+
Low AD+
High AD
Mid AD
Low AD
High AD-
Mid AD-
Low AD-
Votes cast 10
High 5a
Mid 5a
Low 5a
High 4c
Mid 4c
Low 4c
High 4b
Mid 4b
Low 4b
Votes cast 2
Votes cast 9
Style of Ascent
Alt Leads
Lead
Followed
Soloed
Not Set
Onsighted
DNF
Dogged
Not Set