IV, 850m, 10 - 12 hours. A true classic, first climbed by a legend of the alpine climbing world (Pierre Allain), this remains a real testpiece despite the advancement of climbing equipment. The climbing is distinctly traditional in nature and strong fingers are of much less use than the ability to thrutch effectively. The rock is mainly good, but there are some loose sections, especially in the final third of the route.Approach - The route is approached from the Montenvers train. Descend the ladder system from the Montenvers train to reach the Mer de Glace. Go up this for 10 minutes and then cross it to reach a series of ladders which lead up the far bank, directly underneath the West Face of the Dru. These are indicated by the large painted square on the rocks just above where they begin. From the top of the ladders, follow a good path towards the Charpoua Refuge up a steep section and then a series of hairpins. After the third hairpin, cut off the path and follow a much more vague path and the odd cairn up the moraine to the right of the Glacier des Drus. Cross the glacier at the top to reach a superb bivi spot, underneath a huge boulder, between the Glacier des Drus and Glacier du Nant Blanc. If this is busy (not out of the question when conditions are good) there are plenty of other good sites. The approach takes roughly 3 hours.1) 4a. Begin by climbing the Ryan-Lochmatter Couloir for 100m. This is little more than scrambling (4a maximum) and provides a good warm up, but it can be prone to rockfall so keep moving up it to reach a series of ledges. 2) Cross the ledges (sometimes snowy) diagonally up and rightwards for 100m to a series of cracks and chimneys which split a grey wall.3) Follow these rightwards for 150m via some thrutchy and traditional climbing (which is often damp, just to add to the fun!) up a clear line of weakness to an exposed, wide ledge. Cross this to the right to reach the foot of the Fissure Lambert - a thin crack 10m to the left of a huge corner.4) 5a. Climb the Fissure Lambert (5a) and continue up flakes to reach an overhang. Turn this on the left (4c) to reach an easier, 50m couloir. Follow this leftwards and then go up and right for 60m across blocky ground to reach the Niche des Drus. The easier ground after the Fissure Lambert is prone to rockfall so wait until you're clear of the niche before stopping.5) 4a. Go up the niche (45 degree snow/ice) for 60m to a ledge system. Cross this rightwards and then climb easy (4a) rock (still drifting rightwards) for 75m to another large ledge with a good view of the west face. This makes a good bivouac site for those carrying bivi kit. 6) 4c. Go to the far left of the ledge and climb a chimney for 20m (4c) before moving up and left to another ledge. From here a further 50m of 4c chimney/crack climbing leads to the foot of the Allain Crack - the crux of the route.7) 6a. Climb the Allain Crack (6a, 50m, pegs in place) to a ledge. Alternatively go right and climb the Martinetti Crack (5a) and then step back left to rejoin the route above the Allain Crack. No pressure but Pierre Allain freed the pitch that bears his name in 1935 during the first ascent!8) 5a. Once above the Allain Crack climb a corner (4a) on the left and twin cracks above this (5a) leading rightwards to a large ledge looking down the west face.9) Go to the left edge of the ledge and climb steep but well-featured cracks for 40m. From above these, follow a series of (often icy) chimneys and gullies, picking the least icy/snowy line, to the summit. Descent - It is extremely tempting, upon reaching the summit Madonna of the Petit Dru, to try to descend the peak via the West Ridge and/or South Face. Do not attempt this, regardless of how little daylight there is or how tired you are; the rockfall danger is extremely high. A much better way off the peak is to traverse over to the Grand Dru and descend this. From the top of the Petit Dru, traverse the East Ridge easily to reach the notch separating the two summits. Climb a narrow crack for 5m to reach a ledge system which traverses right. After the 12m it peters out, 20m directly underneath a large roof. Follow a flake system up and left for one pitch to a ledge belay on the crest of the Grand Dru's Northwest Ridge. Climb up and right for 5m until you reach an impassable roof. Traverse left here to reach some exposed, slabby climbing on the North Face of the Grand Dru. Follow these slabs to a ledge and belay here, directly beneath a steep corner-crack which is often icy and always difficult. Climb the corner-crack, making full use of any slings which are hanging in it, and then an easier chimney with good flakes to reach the summit of the Grand Dru. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours from the Petit Dru to the Grand Dru. From here, descend the East Ridge (easy but exposed) in the direction of the Aiguille Verte, staying on the right of the ridge, to reach a bolted abseil anchor after 150m, right underneath a pinnacle with a boulder perched on its crest. Make roughly 12 x 50m abseils (all on good, fixed anchors) down the South Face, always drifting left (when looking down) to reach the Charpoua Glacier. This is often quite complex and will almost certainly require an abseil in order to cross the bergschrund which lies under the South Face of the Petit Dru. There are some slings fixed on the right bank of the glacier but these may not be visible or at the right height for the snow level at the timeso an Abalakov or snow bollard anchor might be required to get across. Once below the bergschrund, the glacier remains complex so keep moving and paying attention until safely on the terrace of the Charpoua Refuge. Walk down from here to the Montenvers train in 3 hours via a good path and the ladders used for the approach. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
Classic '6 north faces' route. It's climbed by a succession of cracks, chimneys and diedres in a rather thuggish way. Ballerina moves learnt at the climbing wall are of no use here, and the grades will definitely feel harder.
Dodgy route finding after the Niche.
The first Quartz ledge doesn't traverse into the South ridge anymore.
Decent bivouac site in the second quartz ledge a pitch from the top if in trouble.
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