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Routes in Vallée Blanche Basin

Arête des Bosses / Goûter Route PG13
Contamine Grisolle AI2 M2
Cosmiques Arête 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b AI2 M4
Goulotte Chéré AI4
Kuffner Ridge T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b AI2
Mont Blanc du Tacul Regular Route
Perroux-Profit Goulotte AI4 M5
Tour Ronde North Face AI2-3 Steep Snow
Vent du Dragon AI4 M5+
Type: Trad, Ice, Alpine, 2000 ft, Grade IV
FA: Moritz von Kuffner, Alexander Burgener, Josef Furrer, and a porter, 1887
Page Views: 367 total, 22/month
Shared By: Bogdan P on Aug 4, 2016
Admins: Euan Cameron, Luc-514

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Description

An excellent snow, ice and mixed route at altitude, with outstanding position.

Begins with a 100m snow ramp either to the Fourche Bivouac (left) or right at the base of where the ridge up Mont Maudit steepens (right). If going to the Fourche Bivouac, note that it's not visible from the Geant Glacier, as it's just over the top of the ridge on the Brenva side. Follow the path of least resistance up the ridge until you find yourself below a large rock spire (Pointe de l'Androsace). Turn this spire on the left by an exposed but easy mixed traverse. A 4c (5.7) crux has to be overcome in order to reascend to the ridge. Pitons are in place.

Continue to follow the path of least resistance along snow aretes and mixed ground to the north east shoulder of Mont Maudit. Snow slopes and corniced ridges are overcome by their north side and provide access to the summit of Mont Maudit, or a premature descent to the Trois Monts route.

Make sure you have good weather and snow conditions, since the only reasonable retreat off this route is back the way you came.

Location

Take the Geant Glacier around the south side of the Grand Capucin to where the glacier curves around the back side of Mont Blanc du Tacul into Combe Maudit. Note the campsite at the base of the Capucin where the rock climbers set up. This is a good place to camp if you can't make it to the Fourche bivouac.

It's a bit of a walk from here to the ridge, but the Combe Maudit (this is the cirque around the corner and to the right if you're facing the Kuffner ridge from below the Capucin) had a massive serac at the top in 2016 when we were there, which looked even nastier when we passed it from above on the descent and saw how it was peeling apart from the rest of the glacier in the Col Maudit. Looked like it could easily have wiped out the entire cirque if it came down. I don't know how this will evolve over future seasons, but the Batoux guidebook also confirms serac fall danger in this cirque in the route description for "Lacrime Degli Angeli" (something about "campervan" sized blocks regularly being spit out). Best to sleep well out of the way.

The ridgeline extending from the Tour Ronde on the left hand side of this valley runs up to the summit of Mont Maudit. The Kuffner ridge begins from the low point of this ridge and follows snow aretes and mixed rock to the summit of Mont Maudit.

Protection

Couple cams, nuts, screws. Single piton in place to belay the crux and a second piton available for pulling the crux if needed.

Photos

Bogdan P
Boulder, CO
 
Bogdan P   Boulder, CO
 
Tried to be objective in the route description above, but to add a bit of subjective info, I recall lots of nerve racking unprotectable climbing along exposed snow ridges (pickets may have helped, but also slowed us down), and I was mentally fried before even finishing the route. It was this psychological aspect of the route, and not any of the technical difficulties, which I found to be the crux. It's a route to do with a partner you know well and trust completely on exposed snowy terrain. Oct 12, 2017