III, 350m, 3 - 5 hours. A real classic, and a popular 'first alpine north face'. The face is often icy in mid-winter whilst in spring it is regularly skied and can be very snowy. (It is worth pausing on the top snowfield to consider how glad you are to have crampons on instead of skis!) The best climbing conditions are usually found in June and early July before the face gets too dry and icy in the height of the summer heat. Be aware that the face suffers from rockfall when the sun hits the upper slopes, so an early, pre-dawn start is essential.Approach - From the Helbronner lift, cross the Col des Flambeux and descend west to pass under the Aiguille de Toule North Face. Continue in this direction over the Col d'Entrèves and traverse around under the face - 1 hour from Helbronner lift.1) Cross the bergschrund (often the crux of the route!) on the right-hand side of the face. 2) Climb the lower snow slope (45 degrees) to reach the foot of the steep gully that splits the face and usually forms the crux of the route.3) In good conditions the gully will present minimal difficulty and is enjoyable Scottish grade III ice. It can, however, be calf-burning black ice, albeit not too technically difficult. There are intermediate belays on the banks of the gully.4) Exit the gully by a step right onto the main face and a peg belay. The upper face is straightforward (50 - 55 degrees) but can be difficult to protect in snowy conditions, and it is necessary to maintain concentration despite inevitable fatigue. 5) At the top of the face, follow the excellent airy ridge to a short downclimb and then a mixed traverse around to Southeast Ridge. Follow this to the summit.Descent - Down the Southeast Ridge. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
The North Face is about 400 m high (10 to 12 pitches) with ice continuously up to 60° with an average of 52°.
In the middle the face narrows to an icy couloir and then opens again for the upper slopes. It is here that it steepens up to 60°.
It is best to stay at the right side close to the rocks to get good belay's.
The summit is normally reached by going left of the rocks and joining the normal route over the south-east ridge
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