Unlike most climbers I know I’ve never been a massive fan of logging climbs. The last thing I usually want to do when back from a day out is to sit down and start adding tick marks to an online logbook.
However, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that having a list of stuff done is pretty useful. And, with the hope of helping others who are planning their first alpine trip I thought I’d share my summer activities here. If you’re overwhelmed with options, like I certainly was, I hope this is a useful starting point.
Some other advice, I didn’t find the alpine grading system particularly helpful when trying to discern route difficulty; in particular some of the rock routes in the Aiguilles Rouges relatively soft for their alpine grade compared to comparatively ‘easier’ Alpine routes on the Mount Blanc massif side. This may be particularly true for climbers with significant rock climbing experience but relatively little time logged in the big mountains. To combat this, read route descriptions and type of climbing involved in detail, and compare several descriptions if possible. Personal advice was always most useful to build an understanding of the technical terrain, however any assessment of difficulty should be taken with a pinch of salt. I’ve tried to list the routes very roughly from easier to harder climbs, although this is of course highly subjective.
Rouges side – a mixed bag of sport and trad, usually with bolted anchors. Crampons were only needed for access in early June when the snow line was still low.
Voie Blanche, Chézerys Slabs
NE arête, Aiguillette d’Argentiére
Various routes, Brévent Crags
Traversé des Crochues, Aiguille de Crouches
Arête S, Chapelle de Glière
La Plage & Robin Hood, Aiguillette de la Floria
Voie Ravanel, Aguille de Crochues
Cocher Cochon, Brévent Crags
Frison-Roche, Brévent (not sure I can technically include this one as I fell off the first pitch and had to back off!)
Mont Blanc side – Alpine climbing requiring serious consideration of weather, altitude and fitness levels
Domes de Miage Traverse (technically very easy but a big slog uphill, not for the unfit!)
NW Ridge & Normal Route, Tête Blanche
Normal Route, Aguille du Tour
NW Ridge, Petit Aiguille Vert
SW Ridge – NE Ridge traverse, Aiguille d’Entreves
Arête des Cosmiques, Aiguille du Midi
Traverse, Pointe Lachanal
Ordinary route, Tour Ronde
North face, Tour Ronde
Voie Abert, Lames Fontaine
Contamine-Mazeaud, Triangle du Tacul
Papillons Ridge, Aiguille du Peigne
Chèré Couloir, Triangle du Tacul
Eperon Migot, Aiguille du Chardonnet
South Ridge Integral, Aiguille de Moine
The Debruyne-Manu Routecombined with the Escarra, Aiguille du Chardonnet (re-named by the guys as the Fulton-Forshaw route, see below…terrifying!)
The last two are a level up from the other climbs (I seconded these), so should be undertaken with more caution. I’ve excluded La Bricate à Charlet, East face of the Index and the Marbrees Traverse, Aiguille du Marbrees off my list as both featured horribly loose choss for most of the route!
As a break from bad weather in the valley we also did some sport climbing at La Fraisse, Balmette (France), Muzzerone (Cinque Terre, Italian Riveria) and dry tooling at Le Fayet – all recommended ‘rest’ day activities.