IV, 1200m, 1 - 2 days. This is THE classic hard Chamonix route! Cams and modern rock boots mean that the route can be climbed faster than it used to be but, even in the 21st century, ticking the Walker Spur is still a major achievement.
In mixed conditions it will be hard and (even more) time consuming so it is best to wait (even if takes a few years) to get it when it is dry. Pitch by pitch descriptions are available but to climb it in anything like decent time you will need to move together as much as possible and have a good nose for route finding as the line is not obvious. We've described the route by features and broken it down into sections so that you can motor up to a key feature, look up and pick out the route, then carry on moving without spending too much time studying the topo. There is a lot of random tat plus pegs and various others bit of gear which are off route, so don't be tempted to follow everything man-made that you see.
1) Start to the right of the toe of the spur and then move onto the crest. Follow this over broken, loose but moderate ground to where the angle eases back.
2) Head up and left across broken ground, aiming for a series of slabs. In dry conditions this section will just be rock, but it may be mixed. Having reached the slabs, the terrain steepens and, moving right and then left (5c, pegs) and right again, leads you to a small ledge below a vertical wall, pierced by two corners.
3) 6a. Climb the overhanging left-hand corner (the Rébuffat corner, 6a ) and then move right into the one above (the Allain corner ) and follow it onto a large ledge. This section is the crux of the whole route with the step right between the corners being the key move. It is possible to aid some of the pitch but the crux is a thin slab move of 6a and can't be aided.
4) 5b. From the large ledge, step down slightly and then climb diagonally up and right for 120m to reach the crest of the spur and, just to the right of it, the 75m corner, which is hard to mistake once you've found it. Climb the corner via some awkward, physical and well-protected moves (sustained 5b, pegs) to easier ground and chimneys, leading to a ledge with fixed rope (4c/5a).
5) 4c. Descend 15m down and right (it is possible to make a short abseil) and climb a short, steep section to gain a right-trending ramp. Follow this for 50m of 4c climbing to a good bivvy spot. Take note that, in dry conditions, snow (and hence water) may be hard to find anywhere near this bivvy.
6) 6a. Above the bivvy ledge, climb a short steep wall (6a) and then trend up corners rightwards for 2-3 rope lengths (5c) before following broken ground to the foot of the Grey Slabs, a steep wall that is climbed up a crack (pegs), trending leftwards, to the crest of the spur.
7) 5b. Climb the spur itself for 200m via some good, exposed climbing to meet the final, large rock buttress below the summit.
8) 5c. Step right and head up a red-coloured chimney, which may be mixed. The chimney feels quite scary and is full of loose blocks so take your time. Three pitches should see you out of it.
9) Above the chimney, follow a corner system out right on flakes and then traverse rightwards across a slab beneath a steep wall.
10) Move right of the wall and climb a short, steep corner which is often icy but is filled with helpful pegs. Above the corner, move left onto the vague crest of the spur.
11) 4c. Follow the crest for 200m to the summit.
Descent - Down the Grandes Jorasses South Face (p.168). © Rockfax
Six classic alpine North Faces , Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif , ROCKFAX Chamonix: Top 50 , Big Routes , Alpine Grande Courses , Euro Alpine Rock , Alpine Dreamz , Extreme Alpine Rock , The Post-Lockdown Vanventure Ticklist , Big Alpine Routes , Road to the Walker Spur , Batoux's 100 finest routes in the Mont Blanc massif , Alps 22
Please Login to view more details on the logged ascents