V, 1100m, 10 - 12 hours. The first route established on the face, the Croz was originally done as a rock climb but is now only ever climbed when in mixed condition. The quality of the route stands up against virtually any other in the Alps especially when in good condition. It takes in technical climbing on ice, mixed and rock and is as good as it is varied. The vast majority of ascents are via the Slovenian Start and that is how we have described it. The white dotted line to the left of the main line shows the original start for historical accuracy. Make sure you check conditions before setting out, particularly for the finishing gully at the top which could leave you isolated 1000m up this massive face if conditions turned out to be unclimbable.
1) Cross the bergschrund and climb increasingly steep snow to a narrow gully. Climb this (65 degrees) and then follow it diagonally up and left to a wider gully.
2) Climb the wider gully (75 degrees maximum) for 300m. Don't be tempted to cut left out of this after 150m - this option looks appealing and seems to lead onto the crest of the Croz Spur proper, but turns out to be much harder than just carrying on straight up. At the top of the gully, follow a superb but delicate pitch left onto the Croz Spur ridge crest.
3) Climb up the crest for 10m then follow a line of weakness out right to reach an icefield.
4) Follow the icefield up 60 - 70 degree ice (if your calves weren't hurting up to here, they will be after this!) to reach a hidden gully leading up and left to a notch. Climb this to the notch, which is stunningly positioned.
5) Climb relatively straightforward but spectacular mixed ground up the crest of the spur. Upon reaching lower angled ground after 70m, there are two options. The traditional finish went up left but this is almost never climbed now and is invariably dry and loose. The new finish traverses right to the foot of a steep, narrow gully leading directly to Grandes Jorasses summit ridge.
6) Climb the gully, which will be hard in anything other than perfect conditions, and exit onto the summit ridge via a short section of easier ground. The gully is 5+ but climbers who have done it in poor, dry conditions, have suggested up to grade 7!
Descent - Down the Grandes Jorasses South Face (p.168). © Rockfax
M Meier & R Peters Jun/1935.
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