II, 200m. A quiet route which provides some excellent pitches on some beautiful, mostly-clean granite. It dries surprisingly fast after snowfall but still takes one day after bad weather to be completely good to go. Start in the middle of the buttress, beneath a left-leaning ramp.
1) 3a, 55m. Climb easily up the ramp via some fairly loose rock to reach a large terrace. It is possible to belay as soon as you reach the terrace, but better to continue up to the back of it to the foot of a deep, block-filled chimney on the right.
2) 4b, 35m. Climb the chimney, which is exited rightwards by a good old thrutch between two boulders, to gain a terrace. Cross this to a bolt belay 5m to the left of a crack/corner.
3) 5c, 55m. Traverse 5m right to the crack/corner. Climb this for 5m to another terrace then head up another crack splitting the face above this, to the right of a corner system. 15m above the terrace, the crack joins the corner system. Follow this gradually leftwards to a niche below a golden slab.
There is a bolted line off to the right of this pitch, but it is 7a+ so don't be tempted to follow the bolts!
4) 5b/A1 or 6a+, 30m. Climb the left-hand edge of the slab on good holds, but with a few tough moves, before traversing to the slightly overhanging crack straight above. (Many people mistakenly climb one of the two corners another 5m to the right, which look tempting but are harder.) The crack normally falls to a determined approach and the odd pull on some gear if needs be (6a+ if done free). It leads to a notch, followed by a short, wide chimney and finally, the belay on the left.
5) 4b, 30m. Step right from the belay and follow flakes and cracks just to the left of the spur to a belay 3m from the crest.
6) 5a, 30m. Go left up the slab to the left of the belay and continue left until a ramp-line leads up and right to a large ledge.
Descent - The route can abseiled from the top of the pitch 6 which allows you to leave your winter gear at the foot, but continuing on to the Tour Ronde summit and descending via the Southeast Ridge makes for a much better and more adventurous day. From the ledge, traverse left and climb up a vague gully to reach the ridge joining the spur with the Tour Ronde North Face. Follow the crest of the ridge on some fairly worrying loose blocks to a 20m abseil. From the foot of this, continue downclimbing for 10m to a ridge-line which leads to the top of the North Face. Follow the ridge-line over mixed ground (taking great care over which blocks you pull on), to reach the summit tower where the North Face (p.284) ends. © Rockfax
J Bernazat, C Colomb.
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