III, 3 - 5 hours. One of the best routes of this grade in the Alps, the Forbes has everything you look for in an alpine adventure - excellent climbing, stunning views and a real high mountain feel. The route is often underestimated though, so start early and leave plenty of time for the descent.
Approach - From the Refuge Albert Premier, reach the Glacier du Tour and head southeast in the direction of the Grande Fourche. When the Chardonnet is due south, walk straight towards it, passing just under the rocks at Pte. 3238m to reach the prominent rock buttress southwest of the Aiguille Forbes. Climb up immediately to the left of this and then swing back around to pass over the top of it and continue up 30 degree snow to reach 'La Bosse', the glacial plateau just below the Forbes Arête. Continue up steepening snow to join the ridge next to Pte. 3703m.
1) Turn the first small summit on the south side of the ridge before returning to the north side and traversing across snow slopes to another summit.
2) 4b. Go around the second summit on the south side then come back to the ridge crest at a small col. Climb a short slab (4b) on the north side to reach a small pinnacle.
3) Downclimb a chimney from the top of the pinnacle and then make an exposed traverse across the north face to rejoin the ridge.
4) Follow the ridge crest, turning anything tricky on the north side, to reach a final rocky scramble to the summit.
Descent - From the summit, descend the southwest ridge for 20m to reach the top of a wide 40-45 degree snow couloir dropping down on the right. Descend this, ideally on foot but abseiling from spikes if conditions are bad, sticking to the right (when looking down) as far as possible until you reach a saddle. The couloir is perched above a cliff band so take care and keep concentrating all the way down. From the saddle, continue down the vague ridge crest to reach the top of an abseil line down through a cliff band. There are numerous anchors dotted around but the ones marked on the photo of the descent require 25m abseils. If the abseils are busy, there is also a line further to the right (when facing down) which is reached by climbing back towards the saddle and then traversing across exposed snow slopes to reach the line of anchors. Whichever line you follow, the abseils bring you onto a steep snow slope which gradually eases and leads you back onto the Glacier de L'Epaule. Descend this onto the Glacier du Tour. In good conditions it should be possible to descend more or less directly back to the hut but if this is too crevassed it is necessary to descend the glacier until below the Col du Passon before crossing over via a safer line. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
Classic ridge traverse.
From the Albert Premier, cross the Glacier du Tour in about 2 hours. Climb up the snow slope (50-60 degrees) to make way over bergshrund. Up a bit and then climb the snowy ridge on right to the "Bosse" then up towards the skyline ridge (1.5-2 hours from base of climb). Follow the ridge to the summit. One 6-8 meter section of horizontal ice traversing towards the latter stages of the ridge. About 3-5 hours on the ridge. Descend via the NW Ridge route
Paul Sisley with Maurice and Joseph Crettez 10/Aug/1899.
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