Alpinism: Le Pouce – Voie des Francais (Aiguilles Rouges)

Le Pouce is one of the great peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges Massif. It has an impressive South face with some very good routes. The rough approach and the return along a ridge offers a full mountain experience.

Le Pouce - Voie des Français (© P. Gatta)
Le Pouce – Voie des Français (© P. Gatta)

This Voie des Francais is graded TD+/6a/350m and has 13 pitches. It has been opened by P. Kohlmann, P. Mazeaud and P. Saint-Armand in 1960. They were strong and bold climbers so expect some serious climbing for the grades. Most anchors (up to pitch #10) have at least one bolt in addition to pegs. There are some pegs in some pitches but full rack of friends (aliens and #0.3 to #3) and some nuts are required.

Approach: take the Flegère and Index chair lift. From there, cross a small pass right of Aiguille de la Glière and go down on the other side (West) on very loose rocks and screes. Use carefully the fixed ropes. Here is a simplified GPS Route from l’Index to start of the Voie des Français.

Voie des Français: pitch #1 & 2 (© P. Jouany)
Voie des Français: pitch #1 & 2 (© P. Jouany)

Route description:
Pitch #1 and 2: 5a, these two pitches can be linked. Climb a ramp to the left, a short wall and again to the left.

Voie des Francais: pitch #3 & 4 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Français: pitch #3 & 4 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #3 and 4: 4c, these two pitches can also be linked.
Pitch #5: 5c, go to the right, pass a roof and continue straight up on the cracks (pegs).

Voie des Francais: pitch #3 & 4 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Français: pitch #3 & 4 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #6: 5b, climb the corner, technical and nice. Pass the roof at the end (good holds). Several pegs.

Voie des Francais: pitch #6 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Français: pitch #6 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #7: 6a, thin crack, very nice pitch (pegs).

Voie des Francais: pitch #7 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Français: pitch #7 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #8: 5c+ (same difficulty as #7), back in the corner, the first few meters are difficult to protect.

Voie des Francais: pitch #8 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Français: pitch #8 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #9: 5c+ (same difficulty as #7 and 8), continue in the corner, pass an old anchor and start the traverse to the left, below the massive roof. there are a lot of pegs in the traverse but be careful to the rope drag and loose rock at the end. Fantastic pitch.

Voie des Francais: pitch #9 (© P. Jouany)
Voie des Français: pitch #9 (© P. Jouany)

Voie des Francais: pitch #9 (© P. Gatta)
Voie des Francais: pitch #9 (© P. Gatta)

Pitch #10: 5c+. Climb the roof above and continue in the slab above (pegs). We did not find any anchor.
Pitch #11-13: 4b, we kept going without making any anchor until the top.

Reaching the top of Le Pouce (© P. Gatta)
Reaching the top of Le Pouce (© P. Gatta)

From the top, follow the East ridge to the North peak of Aiguille de la Glière (grade II and III, loose rocks). From there, follow the trail back down to L’Index.

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