Rockfax Description
IV, 850m, 10 - 12 hours. One of the most famous climbs in Chamonix, taking one the area's finest lines - this is understandably a much sought after route. It is often underestimated and no matter how long you expect it to be, it will feel longer! For a fit, acclimatised and efficient team this should provide one of the best climbing experiences out there. Some of the belays are bolted and there is a lot of fixed protection, but take a full rack. The route finding, particularly in the upper section, is not obvious.
1) 6b. The route used to begin to the right of the toe of the buttress but glacial recession has meant that there is now an additional (very difficult) pitch to climb and the approach couloir is often prone to rockfall. Instead, start at the toe of the rock and climb with difficulty to reach the crest of the pillar, or just off to the side of it. Follow this more easily for 80m until level with the snow ramp which branches off to the Supercouloir.
2) Two straightforward but enjoyable pitches follow on, or just to right of, the rocky ridge crest. This leads to the foot of more steep climbing.
3) 10m to the left of the crest of the spur is a long chimney system. Follow this for 150m, the last 20m of which is up superb and steep parallel cracks, leading to a belay ledge just on the right side of the spur, 20m below a bright orange triangular prow of rock.
4) 5c/A0. Climb on the right side of the spur for 15m until this steepens significantly just below the triangle of rock. Aid up the crack on pegs (this is quite a workout with a rucksack on) to a belay. A a long 5c pitch above this regains the crest of the spur at a small pinnacle. Downclimb from this to a notch and traverse 5m left to reach the foot of the 70m chimney.
5) 5a. Climb this in two superb pitches (4c then 5a) and emerge onto an often snowy ledge to the left of the spur.
6) 5c. Follow the right-leaning corner-crack for two pitches (4c and 5c) to a ledge on the shady right-hand side of the spur.
7) Stay on the right-hand side of the spur and climb three mixed pitches up a loose ramp, heading rightwards for a notch between two pillars (much safer and easier with good snow coverage). Having reached the notch, continue to a second chimney straight ahead.
8) 5b. 40m of 4c climbing up the chimney takes you almost to the end of the pillar. A short pitch on the south side brings you to the top. Make a 20m abseil down the pillar's south face to a platform overlooking a couloir. Opposite the line of the abseil is a chimney system taking you back up to the same height as the abseil station, but on the opposite side of the gully. Climb the left-hand chimney crack (5b, 40m). From here, traverse into the broad gully system, which should be full of firm snow.
9) Climb the snow/mixed ground until it steepens and splits after 200m.
9a) 5c. If the mixed ground is completely dry it is extremely prone to rockfall and too dangerous to climb. In this case you will need to climb the Red Tower via some tough climbing. To do this, climb an icy and difficult cracks and corners to the right of crest before coming back onto the crest at a large ledge with a small cairn on. Climb a slab followed by a crack (5c) which leads to a notch just to the right of the top of the Red Tower. Reach the top via easier scrambling and mixed climbing.
10) Take the right-hand branch and follow this over 100m of mixed terrain.
11) 4c. A final 4c rock pitch leads to the notch left of the Red Tower. Climb mixed terrain for 100m then rejoin the ridge, passing right of numerous pillars. Finally follow the rock crest for few pitches (up to 4c) to a snow slope which takes you onto the summit of the Tacul itself.
Descent - The route finishes on the summit so you will need to carry your boots, crampons and axe up the route. © Rockfax


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High TD+
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High TD
Mid TD
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Votes cast 9
High 6b+
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Votes cast 9
Style of Ascent
Alt Leads
Not Set
Ground Up
Not Set
Route of Interest
North Ridge Aiguille de Peigne

Grade: TD ***
(Aiguille du Peigne)

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