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Rockfax Description
III, 1400m, 6 - 8 hours. A long and involved route through some stunning and serious terrain. The route is often used as the main descent off the topo of the Grandes Jorasses which is why we have included a detailed descent description here. Ideally the route should have a good covering of snow on the glacial sections, but the rock should be dry. Unfortunately most climbers descending the route do so in summer or autumn when it is often loose and scary. Regardless of the conditions, there are objective dangers from rock/serac fall and lots of exposed scrambling so keep concentrating throughout and move as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Approach - From the small village of Planpincieux in the Italian valley of Val Ferret, follow the steep path upwards for 1400m, finishing on a 100m section of ladders leading to the Rifugio Boccatte.
1) From the Rifugio Boccalatte, follow the rocky moraine up the left-hand side of the Rognon de la Bouteille ridge and onto the glacier. This section can be quite heavily crevassed so take care.
2) At the junction between the two glaciers, move onto the Rocher du Reposoir and follow the ridge of this until it runs out.
3) Cross the glacier, which is often very open and always feels spooky, to reach the Whymper Rib on the other side.
4) Climb up the Whymper Rib for around 300m and, at its top, move rightwards across the ridge and col and on to the summit.
4a) It is also possible to climb a short way up the Whymper Rib and then traverse under the enormous serac. This serac was considered so risky that the route under it was closed by the Italian mountain security services in one particularly dry summer. Once on the far side climb 300m of mixed ground direct to the summit of Pointe Walker.
Descent - Downclimb the Whymper Rib for 300m as it gradually steepens (a few abseils may be necessary depending on conditions/fatigue levels). Where the ridge narrows, drop off to the right to reach the upper part of the glacier. There are bolted abseil anchors allowing you to make 3 or 4 x 25m abseils (depending on the level of the glacier) from the ridge onto the glacier if you don't want to downclimb. Cross the glacier, which is often very open and always feels spooky, to reach the Rocher du Reposoir.
Pointe Walker Alternative - It is also possible to skip out the downclimb of the Whymper Rib by descending steep snow and mixed ground for 300m directly from Pointe Walker and then traversing underneath the dangerous serac to the abseil points at the foot of the Whymper Rib. Going this way is about an hour quicker than descending the Whymper Rib but, unless a storm is approaching very quickly, the risk of serac fall doesn't seem worth it, so take the extra hour and avoid a lot of danger.
Pointe Croz Alternative - From the summit of Pointe Croz, make 4 or 5 abseils directly down the south face and then descend the glacier to reach the top of the Rocher du Reposoir. The abseils are down some poor rock so be careful not to dislodge anything.
Descend the Rocher du Reposoir via some exposed downclimbing and the odd short abseil to reach the junction between the two glaciers. Go down towards the Rognon de la Bouteille ridge and pass right of it to reach the rocky moraine above the Rifugio Boccalatte. This section can be quite heavily crevassed so don't relax until you're off the glacier and on the rocky moraine. Once on the moraine, walk down to the hut, following some vague cairns and paint marks. © Rockfax

Whymper/Croz/Almer/Biner 1865.


Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif


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Route of Interest

Gallet Ridge

Grade: AD+ ***
(Mont Dolent)