470m.

Rockfax Description
III, 470m. A visionary achievement from a man many consider to be the greatest alpinist of them all. The first ascent was achieved with the use of plenty of aid and most ascents still involve an element of pulling on gear to get through the tougher sections - the free climbing (and grading!) is fairly 'old school'. The first ascent was also notable because it came in the days before the use of bolts and, as such, it is testimony to the route finding skill and bravery of the two climbers involved.
The route originally started by a traverse in from the broken ground beneath the Swiss Route to join the top of what we've described as the third pitch. It is much better, and more sustained, to climb the first three pitches of Voyage selon Gulliver. One thing to bear in mind is that the traverses on the route mean that it is longer than it initially appears.
1) 6b+, 25m. Climb a crack to below a roof and climb around this to the right. No pushover straight off the deck!
2) 6b+, 35m. Move left and climb the superb slabby crack. This is technical and feels bold for the last few metres.
3) 6c, 20m. Continue up the same crack system to avoid a small roof on the left.
4) 4c, 40m. Downclimb slightly and traverse the ledge easily to its far end. Belay under a shallow corner, just right of a cave.
5) 6a+, 15m. Climb the corner, which is trickier than it looks! Step left at the top.
6) 6a, 35m. Follow the slabby flake/crack to an overhang. Go around this to the left and continue to a small ledge.
7) 6b+, 25m. Tricky! Shallow cracks lead to a stance directly below a large roof.
8) 6b+, 35m. Traverse the slab rightwards and climb through the overhand via a wide chimney crack. Continue more easily to a ledge. This was the first bivouac during the first ascent - must have been a pretty sleepless night!
9) 6b, 20m. Continue up steep cracks and climb past an overhang by avoiding it on the right.
10) 5a, 25m. Traverse up and right to a spectacular ledge, directly beneath a steep wall of granite with a small triangular roof directly above the belay.
11) 6c, 40m. The famous '40m wall'. Climb straight up through the small triangular roof and the crack above, before heading slightly right then back left up a steep and shallow corner. Belay on a large ledge. The second bivi during the first ascent.
12) 4a, 15m. Traverse the ledge leftwards.
13) 6b+, 35m. Step left and climb the vague seam and the corner above. Move right to belay on an exposed little ledge.
14) 6c+, 30m. Steep, exposed and difficult crack climbing leads directly up through a small roof and a belay below lower-angled terrain.
15) 6b+, 35m. Climb the slabby, orange rock above the belay and reach the ridge via a steep corner-crack immediately right of the huge block.
16) 4c, 35m. Follow easier ground on the north side to the summit.
Descent - The best descent is by abseil down the a combination of the belays of Voyage selon Gulliver and a neighbouring (undescribed) line called L'√Člixir d'Astaroth. It takes a direct line and has well-equipped belays which lead you back to the end of pitch 4 of the Swiss Route, from where it is possible to descend via the line of ascent. 2 x 50m ropes are necessary for the abseil lines. The peak is covered in many other routes so there are belays everywhere. Try to stick to a line when descending in order to avoid getting a rope stuck or abseiling into overhanging terrain. It is also possible to abseil down O Sole Mio, an undescribed route to the left of the Swiss Route. © Rockfax

Bonatti.

Ticklists

Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes in the Mont Blanc Massif, Batoux's 100 finest routes in the Mont Blanc massif, Parois-de-legende, Euro Alpine Rock, Extreme Alpine Rock, Mont Blanc Super Cracks

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Route of Interest

La Dame du Lac

Grade: ED1 6b+ ***
(Aiguille du Midi)
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