III, 600m, 4 - 5 hours. A long route with plenty of varied climbing.There is not much technical ground but covering a lot of terrain in one day presents a specific type of challenge and will test your skills of moving together and route finding. There are numerous appealing looking options in the upper part of the route and a lot of old gear around, so sticking to the right line both on the way up and down is challenging for any team, even when you've already done the route a few times!Approach - From the Plan de l'Aiguille, follow the path south towards the Glacier des Pélerins, signposted for the Refuge des Grands Mulets. The path splits; go right to end up on a moraine ridge with the glacier on the right and the west face of the Aiguille du Peigne on the left. Follow the path up the moraine ridge to reach the bottom left end of the Peigne snowfield.1) Scramble up slabby, broken rocks at the bottom left of the snowfield for 15m (or climb the snowfield itself if conditions allow or if you have crampons) to a good path which leads leftwards for 50m (via an exposed section of short, easy downclimbing) to the foot of the Papillons Couloir.2) Continue up the path (which becomes increasingly vague) on the right-hand side of the couloir, passing numerous cairns. As the couloir narrows and steepens, the path moves left and the going becomes more scrambling than walking but it is still fairly straightforward and it should be possible to keep motoring until you reach the foot of a wide, 10m corner-crack.3) 4b. Thrutch up the corner (4b) to a bolt and scramble up for 15m to a well-polished ramp-line leading out left. Follow this easily enough (4a) to a double bolt belay 10m below a notch in the ridge crest above. 4) 4b. Continue for 5m towards the ridge and then go right up a flake and a slab (4b) to hit the crest. Follow it over excellent, blocky ground to a long, exposed ledge overlooking the Peigne slabs on the left.5) Walk along the ledge for 50m to where it ends and then cut right up low-angled scrambling ground to rejoin the Papillons Couloir roughly 100m above where you left it. Climb this easily for 50m, exit it leftwards and then walk rightwards up ledges to a notch beneath Gendarme Pointe 3009m. 6) 4a. Go rightwards around the gendarme and scramble up to a notch on the right. Traverse rightwards across some loose but almost flat ground, and then climb a short and steep 10m step (4a) to reach a final, short traverse to Brèche 3043m.7) 4b. Follow the Southwest Ridge for 20m (4b) and then step down and right to a ledge. Climb a short corner on the right and then make a descending traverse rightwards to another short corner. Climb this to reach a ledge system. 8) 4c. Go along the ledge system rightwards to reach a large area of light-coloured rock - this is the 'Salle à Manger'. Cross this, still going right, to the foot of a right-leaning chimney at the same altitude as the Col du Peigne. Climb the chimney for two pitches (4c) to belay on some slightly disconcerting and loose looking blocks, beneath a steep flake-crack.9) 4c. Climb the flake-crack (4c) to reach the extremely exposed summit ridge. Follow this, turning any difficulties on the right, to reach the pinnacle, after which the ridge drops away steeply. Make a 5m abseil onto a ledge on the right and from here, squirm (and it is a squirm) under the summit block and onto the top.Descent - Make a 25m abseil from a double bolt anchor on the summit block, down the Lépiney Crack, which is on the northwest face of the summit tower. Pull the rope and scramble leftwards (when facing out) for 10m to reach another bolt belay which is just out of sight from the foot of the Lépiney Crack, but which is at the top of a long series of slabs, high above the couloir leading down from the Col du Peigne. Make three more 25m abseils, all from bolted belays, to the ledge system you crossed on the way up. Descend this rightwards (when facing out) via the odd technical step (it's worth placing some gear here and moving together as the terrain is not as easy as initially appears) to the belay where the ascent route branches off from the Southwest Ridge. Make a final 25m abseil to end up just below Brèche 3043m. Scramble up to this and then reverse the ascent route. At the far end of the long ledge overlooking the Peigne slabs is a bolted abseil anchor which allows you abseil directly into the Papillons Couloir via a 25m abseil. From here, scramble down easily to the bolt at the top of the 4b corner which marks the start of the difficulties on the way up. Abseil off the bolt and scramble down the remainder of the ascent route. © Rockfax
Liegard, O'Gorman, Ravanel and Couttet 23/Jul/1906.
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