III, 250m. A brilliant route which takes in a variety of pitches through some amazing terrain at an amenable grade - this is a 'must do' for anyone operating at this level. There is a bolted belay above the crux pitch but otherwise the belays are not in place. However, there are plenty of spikes on the route and virtually every stance has a something on it that you can put a sling around to belay off. Given the popularity of the route amongst mountain guides, it seems likely that bolts may be added in the future but for now, count on building your own belays. The route is described in pitches but, if you are to do it in good time (3-4 hours is about right), then you will need to move together on easier sections or climb very quickly and efficiently. There are numerous variations on the easier sections of the route, so as long as you find the key pitches (4 and 11), don't worry too much about the exact line you take elsewhere.Approach - From the Plan de l'Aiguille follow a vague path leading directly to the foot of the ridge. This is hard to follow but even if you lose it, just make for the foot of the route and you shouldn't go far wrong. The closer you get to the route, the more the approach becomes a scramble across a boulderfield but route finding is still easy enough.1) 4a. Having reached the foot of the ridge, move onto the right of it and climb a series of easy cracks and slabs to reach the foot of a short, steep corner with two jammed blocks in it.2) 5b. Climb the corner, which is more thuggish than hard, and follow the ridge crest for 5m, past some fun and exposed moves, to the bottom of a series of parallel cracks.3) 4c. Climb the cracks and step left at the top to regain the ridge crest. Follow this for 10m to reach a ledge.4) 5c. Follow the ridge for a few metres and downclimb slightly to reach a 1m wide gap which separates the ridge from the wall across from it. Take a deep breath and step across the gap before making a few steep moves onto easier ground. There are some pegs to protect this move and these are often used for aid. Continue left up the easier ground to a belay with an excellent view of the move across the gap.5) 4b. Head along the ridge crest to reach some grassy ledges.6) 4b. Climb easy but fun slabs, drifting leftwards, to the foot of a steep corner, just left of the ridge crest.7) 4c. Climb the corner, which is steep and satisfying.8) 4b. Move onto the right of the ridge and follow easy but exposed ground to a niche below a slab. 9) 4c. Climb up and left across slabs to reach a cracked wall directly below the 'letter box' gap between two rock walls.10) 4c. Climb the excellent wall to reach the 'letter box' and a good belay on a jammed block.11) 5c. Exit the letter box rightwards and climb a steep corner protected by pegs. Where this steepens further, make a committing step right around a rib and then carry on up a still steep but easier flakes to a large ledge.12) 4b. Follow the ridge as it descends to a niche below a slab.13) 5b. Climb the slab and belay just below the ridge crest.14) 4a. Follow the ridge, staying a couple of metres below the crest, to a junction with Les Lepidoptères.15) 5a. Continue along just to the left of the ridge crest and then get onto the crest itself after 10m via a steep little pull up over a bulge. Continue more easily on the crest.16) 4a. Follow the exposed but easy ridge to a notch above a steep corner on the right of the ridge.Descent - Either continue to the summit via the Peigne Normal Route if time allows, or make a 25m abseil down a steep corner south of (and directly below) the final belay to reach the Papillons Couloir which forms the start of the Peigne Normal Route. Scramble down here past one further abseil. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
Classic route, good for a half-day's outting. Can be pretty crowded at times. Small rack of Friends and nuts required. Some in situ gear on the hardest sections. Does not top out so will have to combine with other routes if the summit is what you are after. Enjoy the "letterbox" pitch!
K Gurekian, L Pez and A Subut 10/Sep/1948.
Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif, Batoux's 100 finest routes in the Mont Blanc massif, ROCKFAX Chamonix: Top 50, Big Routes, Escalades Choisies Mont-Blanc Aiguilles Rouges (60 Routes 4 to 6a+), Alpine Dreamz, Epic Rock Europe, Alpine Progression
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