III, 1200m, 1 - 2 days. One of the best routes in Chamonix and a rite of passage for anyone aspiring to the Alps' biggest routes - the Frendo Spur is worth the hype. The proximity of the cable car at both ends means it is often underestimated but demands respect, not least since it requires both rock and ice climbing skills and is difficult to retreat from. For competent teams, it represents a wonderful adventure with the added bonus that there is no descent required - the summit is not halfway on this route! The dilemma faced is whether to take bivouac gear to allow the top ice slopes to be climbed in the cold of the early morning. Climbing the route in one day is easily possible but a bivouac has the added benefit of allowing you to spend the night on a huge alpine face - an experience that is probably worth carrying a few extra kilos for if the weather is good.
1) Cross the small bergschrund onto a right-leaning ramp (snow covered in early season) which leads in turn to a left-slanting ramp/slab. This is steeper than it initially appears and can feel quite tricky when damp.
2) Climb this until it peters out and steepens into a wall, at which point you move rightwards and climb increasingly steep chimneys, heading for the crest of the spur.
3) 5b. The final chimney is steep and is easily identifiable by the jammed block at the top, which is looped with numerous pieces of tat. Climb the chimney relatively easily before making a steep pull out rightwards (5b) around the jammed block and onto an exposed arête. Whether you pull on the tat is up to you - either way it is well protected.
4) Follow the gully above which leads to the crest of the spur.
5) Climb a series of ledges just to the right of the spur, moving left when the rock steepens considerably, to reach a straightforward gully.
6) This leads to an exposed col with stunning views down either side of the spur.
7) 5c. Climb the corner just to the left of the col (5c) for 30m to reach slightly easier but sustained ground just left of the spur.
8) 4b. The easier ground continues for 200m at around 4b up slabs, short corners and ledges.
9) Where the spur steepens again, move left onto the snow slope and climb this (45 degrees) next to the spur to reach the spacious bivouac site and the top of the rock section.
10) The famous snow ridge is stunning but usually unprotectable, so take great care. As it merges with the snow slope above it may be possible to place ice screws, but the first guaranteed protection is at the foot of the rock rognon. It is possible to climb the rognon direct at 6a but most teams now go either left or right of it.
11) Right is marginally shorter and more direct but there is often black ice near the top - check conditions beforehand from the Aiguille du Midi cable car if considering this route. In most conditions, left is a better option and has the added bonus of bolted belays every 50m. The final section of ice is the steepest, at around 70 degrees, before the angle eases off and a snow slope leads to the foot of the Aiguille du Midi ridge. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
The long classic ridge summiting next to the telepherique station.
Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif , Batoux's 100 finest routes in the Mont Blanc massif , ICAS Climbing Club , ROCKFAX Chamonix: Top 50 , Big Routes , Alpine Dreamz , Big Alpine Routes , Alpine Progression , Road to the Walker Spur , Alps 22
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