II, 250m. The second most popular route on the South Face of the Midi and with good reason - the Contamine is the E4 climbers' version of the Rébuffat, with tough, well protected climbing. The route is often abseiled to avoid carrying sacks.
1) 6a, 30m. Start on the same ledge as the Rébuffat-Baquet and, as with that route, step left and climb the groove above for 8m to where it starts to move left. Instead of following it left, carry on straight up through an overlap and climb the slab for 5m to a belay.
2) 6a, 20m. Cross the slab diagonally leftwards to the foot of a short, steep corner-crack. Climb this and the crack above to a belay on the right of a large slab.
3) 6b+, 45m. Climb the twin cracks above, following them 5m left of the crest of the arête to belay in a shallow notch above an overlap. There are some pegs in place to help with this pitch but it is sustained (and superb).
4) 5c, 45m. The corner above is easier but just as good.
5) 5a. 20m. Follow the grooves to a series of ledges (often snowy) below an imposing corner-crack that splits a steep wall.
6) 6c+, 40m. Climb the corner and then finger crack. It looks okay from below but proves tough and is both thin and tenuous at the same time! Fortunately it is well protected throughout. The final move past a peg at the end of the steep section is the technical crux and gains the wide flared crack which leads a little more easily rightwards to the belay on a ledge. If the crux move is too hard, there are bolts out right allowing an alternative route.
6) 5b. Climb an easy scrambling pitch up a shaded gully to reach the Rébuffat-Baquet.
7) 5c/A0 or 6b+, 25m. Follow pitch 10 of the Rébuffat-Baquet to the summit. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
Climbed with Alex Marchant. Alternate leads, Alex led crux pitches. Good weather. 4 hours to top, then abseiled down and slog back to midi station.
Bron, Bozon, Contamine, Juge and Labrunie 01/Sep/1957.
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