A fun, moderate to easy climbing day on good rock followed by an exposed traverse along the crest of the eastern edge of the Vercors plateau: Pilier Martin is a fine outing.
Can be done in as few as 4 and as many as 6 pitches to the summmit ridge which is then followed either north (shorter) or south (recommended).
The route can be started by climbing a more difficult, low angle face to the left (4c) or to the right, up a trail in a grassy trough to a a broken, grassy low angle face just left of the big gully. Both options lead to a fixed belay station below an obvious corner crack system. Follow this crack system.
As the crack ends, traverse to a belay to the right. Climb up a chunky face to another fissure which ends at a belay station. A short, steep step leads to an anchor. Much easier climbing/scrambling leads to the summit ridge.
Follow the ridge south for the classic traverse of the arêtes du Gerbier.
The route follows major features and weaknesses and with the sparse fixed protection (bolts and pitons), is fairly easy route finding.
Descent: at the end of the southern traverse, a short rappel leads to a steep trail which winds down to the main trail coming from Pas de l'Oeille.
Another descent option would be to head north to the double brèche (double gap). Reportedly a 15m rappel.
Time: depending on the approach option, allow 1 to 2 hours for the approach, 2 hours for the route, 1.5 hours for the traverse, and another 1 to 2 hours to get back down. 5 to 8 hours total.
Located on the west side of Gerbier, Pilier Martin is the last large buttress to the north, with a distinctive yellow patch of rock in the middle near the base. The route climbs the crack/corner weaknesses on the right side of this buttress, just left of the large gully in between it and the buttress to the right (Pilier des Marmottes).
The large buttress just left of Pilier des Marmottes (PD+, 3c).
From the trail below the base of the steep buttresses, which traverses the west side of Gerbier, find the buttress, and, a steep climbers trail will lead to the base of the route.
The route has adequate fixed protection and belay stations for those comfortable at the grade. A set of draws and a handful of shoulder length slings would be adequate as would a single 50m rope.
The traverse is somewhat poorly protected, slick in spots, and, while technically easy, very exposed. Caution advised. A rope might prove useful for the less-than-confident, but, options for pro are sparse. Take your time, be solid, and, enjoy the view!
Rappel anchor on the southern end of the Traversé...
View from the top of the Pilier Martin buttress, p...
Carol Petrelli third classes the last pitch to the...
Last crack pitch on Pilier Martin.
Carol Petrelli on the top of p5 of Pilier Martin.
Coming up pitch 3 of Pilier Martin
High on the second pitch of Pilier Martin
Carol starts up the first crack pitch on Pilier Ma...
Carol Petrelli coming up the first grassy pitch of...
BETA PHOTO: Approximate route location of Pilier Martin on Ger...