Rockfax Description
IV, 850m. 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 first third of the route. Photo p.
1) 4a. Begin by climbing the Ryan-Lochmatter Couloir for 100m. This is often mixed ground on loose rock.
2) Cross the ledges (often snowy) diagonally up and rightwards for 100m to a series of cracks/chimneys splitting a grey wall.
3) Follow these rightwards for 4 pitches (4c - 5c) via some thrutchy mixed climbing up a clear line of weakness.
4) Climb an awkward recessed chimney (5c) which is very smooth and hopefully banked out with snow. There are helpful pegs high up. This gets you 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) 5c. Climb the 15m Fissure Lambert (5c) to a depression.
5) Climb a gully above the depression for two pitches. This is harder than it looks and often the crux of the route. It can have varying levels of ice making it harder or easier (6a).
5) Three easier mixed pitches lead to the Niche des Drus.
6) 4a. Go up the niche (45 degree snow/ice) for 60m to a ledge system on the right. Cross this rightwards and then climb an easy (4a) gully to another large ledge with a good view of the West Face and junction with American Direct. This makes a good bivouac site.
6) 5c. Go to the far left of the ledge and climb a chimney for 20m (5a) before moving up and left to another ledge. From here a further 50m of 5a corner/crack climbing, always trending leftwards, leads to the foot of a steep wall. Climb this via steep cracks (5c) to gain a depression below the twin Allain Cracks.
7) 6a. Climb the Allain Crack (6a, 30m, pegs in place) to a ledge. Alternatively go right (through a letterbox) and climb the Martinetti Crack (5c) 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 (5c) for 40m. From above these, follow a series of (often icy) chimneys and gullies, picking the least icy/snowy line, to the summit. Alternatively, avoid the last of the two chimneys by heading up and right to a hole that you can crawl to the sunny South Face (possible bivvy sites on ledges). From here, two pitches heading up right (5a) and some traversing on fixed ropes around ledges leads to a snow gully and onto the summit (possible bivvy sites here). © 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.

Allain/Leininger 01/Aug/1935.


Six classic alpine North Faces


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High ED1
Mid ED1
Low ED1
High TD+
Mid TD+
Low TD+
High TD
Mid TD
Low TD
High 6a+
Mid 6a+
Low 6a+
High 6a
Mid 6a
Low 6a
High 5c
Mid 5c
Low 5c
Style of Ascent
Alt Leads
Not Set
Not Set
Route of Interest

Grade: TD+ 6a+ ***
(Envers des Aiguilles)

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