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Aiguille Carrée, Grande Rocheuse, Aiguille Midi
Tour Ronde, Rochefort Ridge
Chamonix Winter 2010 - Alps, France

Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Rochefort, Dent du Geant, Tour Ronde (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta in Cosmiques ridge. Behind: Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Rochefort, Dent du Geant, Tour Ronde (© P. Gatta)

Here are 5 routes climbed during two short trips in The Mont Blanc Massif in winter 2010-2011:

Aiguille Carrée 3716 m (12,191 ft), Frendo - Ravanel Route

This short route opened by Marc Ravanel and Sylvain Frendo on January 17th 1993 is located in the North Face of Aiguille Carrée. The full route is 500 meters high but the hard section is much shorter, around 250 meters. Is access is short and easy from the cable car of Grands Montets.

The route is graded: TD- / II / 5 / 85°.

Aiguille Carrée and Frendo Ravenel seen from Argentiere Glacier (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Carrée and Frendo Ravenel seen from Argentiere Glacier (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille Carrée and Frendo Ravenel seen from the bottom of the route (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Carrée and Frendo Ravenel seen from the bottom of the route (© P. Gatta)

Access: take the cable car of Grand Montets, leave the ski slope toward the bottom of the North face of Aiguille Carrée. Expect around 15 minutes with skis.

Philippe in the lower slopes (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the lower slopes of the Frendo Ravanel (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe in the Chimney, beautiful pitch (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the Chimney, beautiful pitch (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe in the first crux (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the first crux (Photo J. Griffith)


Frendo Ravanel Route: pass the bergschrund and climb the snow slope for 100m. Climb two short mixed sections (60°) then a very nice chimney. Join the base of the first crux, two gullies of 80°. Climb the left one (thin ice, hard to protect). Continue on 70° gully, cross left to reach a 85° gully which ends at the bottom of the last steep section; 10m at 90° (1 piton). Then climb the last couloir for 200m at 50°.

Philippe in the first crux (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the first crux (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe in the Chimney, beautiful pitch (Photo J. Griffith)
Jon Griffith in the second crux (© P. Gatta)

Philippe in the first crux (Photo J. Griffith)
Carine Salvy in the second crux (Photo J. Griffith)

Rapping down (© P. Gatta)
Rapping down (© P. Gatta)

Descent: rapp down the route then either go back to the Grands Montets cable car or ski down to Argentière.

Aiguille du Chardonnet, Aiguille du Milieu, Tour Noir, Mont Dolent (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille du Chardonnet, Aiguille du Milieu, Tour Noir, Mont Dolent (© P. Gatta)



Grande Rocheuse 4102 m (13,458 ft), Vivagel Route

The Vivagel route (in red below) starts in the Couturier Couloir in the North Face of Aiguille Verte. Then the route follows several gullies and Couloir up the East ridge of Grande Rocheuse.
First ascent: David Autheman, Jean-Marc Dellavolpe and Fred Vimal February 5th 1992.

The route is graded: IV / 4 / 1000m.

Red: Vivagel. White: Couturier. Blue: Late to say I'm sorry. Green: Bettembourd-Thivierge (© P. Gatta)
Red: Vivagel. White: Couturier. Blue: Late to say I'm sorry. Green: Bettembourg-Thivierge (© P. Gatta)

North Faces of Grande Rocheuse, Aiguille Verte, Aiguille Carrée, Grands Montets (© P. Gatta)
North Faces of Grande Rocheuse, Aiguille Verte, Aiguille Carrée, Grands Montets (© P. Gatta)

Access: take the cable car of Grand Montets, leave the ski slope toward the bottom of the North face of Aiguille Carrée. Continue toward the Aiguille Verte. Quickly pass under the Cordier Couloir and go up to the base of the Couturier Couloir. Expect around 45 minutes with skis from the Grand Montets (20 minutes of descent and 20 of ascent with ski skins).

Philippe in Vivagel at sunrise. Aiguilles Chardonnet and Milieu behind (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in Vivagel at sunrise. Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille du Milieu behind (Photo J. Griffith)

Carine Salvy in the first pitches of Vivagel (© P. Gatta)
Carine Salvy in the first pitches of Vivagel (© P. Gatta)

Jon Griffith heading up to Vivagel gully (left). We can see the thin ice gully of Late to say I'm sorry (right) (© P. Gatta)
Jon Griffith heading up to Vivagel gully (left). We can see the thin ice gully of Late to say I'm sorry (right) (© P. Gatta)

Philippe in the steep pitches of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)

Vivagel Route: pass the bergschrund and climb the Couturier Couloir (55°) until it turns to the right. Leave the Couloir and climb to the left, toward a large wall. There are three routes on this wall (see the photo above): Vivagel (left), Bourges-Mizrahi (center-right, IV / 4+) and Late to Say I'm Sorry (right, V / 5+ / A2). Climb some mixed terrain to reach the bottom of the first gully. Climb the gullies, 4 pitches at 70°/85°. On top of the gully, climb a Couloir which traverses first to the right, then more or less straight up to the East ridge of Grande Rocheuse.

Philippe in the steep pitches of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the steep pitches of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe in the steep pitches of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the steep pitches of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe in the Couloir above the gullies of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the Couloir above the gullies of Vivagel (Photo J. Griffith)

Descent: there are several options, 1) Traverse the Grande Rocheuse and descent either via the Whymper Couloir (easiest but on the South face), or the Couturier Couloir. 2) We didn't find any anchors in Vivagel and we rapped down on Late To Say I'm Sorry. From the bergschrund, the fastest is ski down to Argentière.

Philippe and Carine high up on Grande Rocheuse North Face (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe and Carine high up in Grande Rocheuse North Face (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe and Carine high up on Grande Rocheuse North Face (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe and Carine high up in Grande Rocheuse North Face (Photo J. Griffith)



Aiguille du Midi 3842 m (12,604 ft), Cosmiques Ridge

The Cosmiques Ridge is a beautiful route of the Aiguille du Midi. It is a very scenic route with amazing views over the Chamonix valley, the three Mont Blanc, Grandes Jorasses, Rochefort ridge, Dent du Geant and the Alps overall. The route starts just above the Abri Simond (hut). First ascent: G. Finch, M. Finch on August 2nd 1911.

Grade: AD / II / 60° max / 4a

The Cosmiques ridge starts at the pass on the left and ends at the Aiguille du Midi (© P. Gatta)
The Cosmiques ridge starts at the pass on the left and ends at the Aiguille du Midi (© P. Gatta)

Cosmiques ridge in the foreground, Mont Blanc du Tacul behind (© P. Gatta)
Cosmiques ridge in the foreground, Mont Blanc du Tacul behind (© P. Gatta)

Skiers descending toward the Vallee Blanche (© A. Gatta)
Skiers descending toward the Vallee Blanche (© A. Gatta)

Philippe in the Cosmiques ridge. Cosmique hut behind (© A. Gatta)
Philippe in the Cosmiques ridge. Cosmique hut behind (© A. Gatta)

Access: take the cable car of Aiguille du Midi. Descent along the normal route, pass under the South Face of Aiguille du Midi to the Abri Simond (hut). The Cosmiques Ridge starts right above the hut.

Philippe rapping down in the Cosmiques Ridge (© A. Gatta)
Philippe rapping down in the Cosmiques Ridge (© A. Gatta)

Anna in the Cosmiques ridge (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta in the Cosmiques ridge (© P. Gatta)

Cosmiques ridge: climb the snow slopes and mixed terrain above the Abri Simond up to the top of the Cosmiques Spur. Avoid several Gendarmes through the right side (South). On top of the Spur there are two rappels (2 good anchors); the first one is very short (<10m), the second one is ~20 meters high. Traverse on the South side 2 big towers to reach the base of a small wall. Climb the short crack (4a, 1 piton) to reach the anchor above (1 piton + 1 bolt) and continue up to a large shelf. Cross to the North Face and climb a Chimney up to the top of the ridge. Climb the ladder leading to the cable car.

Anna in the crux of Cosmiques ridge (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta in the crux of Cosmiques ridge (© P. Gatta)

Aiguille Verte, Les Droites, Les Courtes (© P. Gatta)
Aiguille Verte, Les Droites, Les Courtes (© P. Gatta)

Tour Ronde 3792 m (12,440 ft), North face

The Tour Ronde is a "small peak" which offers amazing views over the Peuterey ridge, the Brenva face of Mont Blanc, Mont Maudit and , Mont Blanc du Tacul. The North face is a popular route with a quick access from Torino hut.

Grade: D- / II / 60° max / 3a

Tour Ronde North face (red), normal route (blue) seen from Rochefort ridge (© P. Gatta)
Tour Ronde North face (red), normal route (blue) seen from Rochefort ridge (© P. Gatta)

Skiing under the full moon close to Aiguille de Toule (Photo J. Griffith)
Skiing under the full moon close to Aiguille de Toule (Photo J. Griffith)

Access: the fastest is to start from the Torino hut. From Torino (3371 m) go toward the Northwest to the Col des Flambeaux (3407 m). Continue toward the west, on the glacier du Geant (crevasses), pass the Aiguille de Toule and reach the base of the Tour Ronde North face (around 3420 m).

Philippe in the Tour Ronde North face (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe in the Tour Ronde North face (Photo J. Griffith)

In the crux of the North face (© P. Gatta)
In the crux of the North face (© P. Gatta)

Anna in the North face of Tour Ronde (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta in the North face of Tour Ronde (© P. Gatta)

Philippe and Anna high up in the Tour Ronde North face (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe and Anna high up in the Tour Ronde North face (Photo J. Griffith)

Tour Ronde North face: climb the lower part of the North face (45-50°) up to a gully. Climb the gully (2 pitches 60° max) and the upper slope which are less steep. Reach the summit ridge and follow it to the left to join the normal route. Climb the last rocky or mixed section to the top.

Tour Ronde North face and Grand Capucin (right) (© P. Gatta)
Tour Ronde North face and Grand Capucin (right) (© P. Gatta)

Peuterey ridge and wind on Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)
Peuterey ridge and wind on Mont Blanc (© P. Gatta)

Anna and Philippe on the ridge of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)
Anna and Philippe on the summit ridge of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)

Descent: climb down the normal route: descend the Southeast ridge toward the Col Freshfield. Leave the ridge when it becomes rocky to descend a couloir down to the glacier.

Philippe on the East face of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe on the East face of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe on the East face of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe on the East face of Tour Ronde (Photo J. Griffith)

Close to the top of Tour Ronde, Dent du Geant behind (Photo J. Griffith)
Close to the top of Tour Ronde, Dent du Geant behind (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe somewhere on the Brenva side (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe somewhere on the Brenva side... (Photo J. Griffith)

Aiguille Rochefort 4001 m (13,126 ft), Rochefort Ridge

The Rochefort Ridge is a fantastic ridge spanning from the Dent du Geant to the Aiguille Rochefort.

Grade: AD / III / 45. 600 m

Anna Gatta on Rochefort ridge, Mont Blanc on the left (© P. Gatta)
Anna Gatta on Rochefort ridge, Mont Blanc on the left (© P. Gatta)

The Rochefort ridge (© P. Gatta)
The Rochefort ridge (© P. Gatta)

Anna climbing the first couloir under the full moon (Photo J. Griffith)
Anna climbing the first couloir under the full moon (Photo J. Griffith)

Anna and Philippe on the top of the Couloir under the full moon (Photo J. Griffith)
Anna and Philippe on the top of the Couloir under the full moon (Photo J. Griffith)

Access: From the Torino hut cross the glacier du Géant, let the col du Géant on the right and climb a snow slope followed by a couloir to a pass on the right of a Gendarme (rocky tower). Join and follow the ridge. Avoid another Gendarme by the right and follow the ridge to the Salle à Manger.

Will and Anna arriving at the "Salle a manger" at sunrise (© P. Gatta)
Will and Anna arriving at the "Salle a manger" at sunrise (© P. Gatta)

Sunrise at the base of Dent du Geant. The moon over Mont Blanc du Tacul. Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc on the left  (Photo J. Griffith)
Sunrise at the base of Dent du Geant. The moon over Mont Blanc du Tacul. Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc on the left (Photo J. Griffith)

Anna on the Rochefort ridge. Peuterey and Mont Blanc behind (Photo J. Griffith)
Anna on the Rochefort ridge. Peuterey and Mont Blanc behind (Photo J. Griffith)

On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)
On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)

Rochefort ridge: follow the ridge, sometimes very narrow to the point 3 933 m. Descend for about 20 meters, cross a rocky point to the right. Continue to the bottom of the Aiguille and climb a couloir on the right (1st pitch). Join the top of Aiguille de Rochefort in 2 pitches, on the left first, then along the ridge.

On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)
On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)

On the Rochefort ridge. Aiguille Noire and Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey behind (Photo J. Griffith)
On the Rochefort ridge. Aiguille Noire and Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey behind (Photo J. Griffith)

On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)
On the Rochefort ridge (Photo J. Griffith)

Descent: same route back to Torino hut.

On the Rochefort ridge, Dent du Geant (Photo J. Griffith)
On the Rochefort ridge, Dent du Geant (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe climbing a pinnacle rock (Photo J. Griffith)
Philippe climbing a pinnacle rock (Photo J. Griffith)

Philippe climbing a pinnacle rock (Photo J. Griffith)
Climbing a pinnacle rock (Photo J. Griffith)


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