The Aiguille de la Glière is one of the major peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, a range of smaller mountains lying on the north side of the Chamonix Valley, opposite Mont Blanc. This range also includes the Aiguille de la Persévérance, Aiguilles Crochues, and Aiguille de l'Index (actually a sub-peak of the Glière). The Aiguille de la Glière consists of three summits: North (2,836 m), Central (2,852 m), and South (2,846 m), although these are rarely climbed since the popular routes finish much lower on the mountain. The routes are justifiably popular, since they are all easily reached from the top station of the Index cable car in less than one hour.
The mountain is best known for the South Ridge route on the Chapelle de la Glière (2,663 m), a prominent tower well below any of the three summits. This route is included in Gaston Rebuffat's "Mont Blanc - The 100 Finest Routes" as Route #4. The route ascends 400m in roughly 14 pitches at a difficulty of UIAA IV+, French 5a, US 5.6-5.7. While several of the pitches are easy (UIAA III or less) and can be passed quickly, the route is fairly sustained and requires 3-5 hours for most parties. The rock is gneiss, similar to limestone, and tends to be quite smooth and difficult to climb when wet. However, since the Aiguille de la Gliere is low in altitude, and many of the routes face south, it tends to dry quickly after bad weather and can be climbed when the weather is unsuitable for longer routes on the Mont Blanc side of the valley.
In addition to the South Ridge route on the Chapelle, two popular shorter routes can be found on the southeast flank, lying just right of the Aiguille de l'Index when facing the mountain (reached in only 10 min from the Index cable car). These routes are very close to each other and similar in character.
Mani Puliti -- First ascent M. Piola 23 August 1999, 150m in 6 pitches, French 5b max 5a obligatory, 2-3 hours.
Nez Rouge -- First ascent J. Cellier and M. Meot September 1998, 150m in 5 pitches, French 5b max 5a obligatory, 2-3 hours.
Excellent route descriptions and topos for these routes, and for the South Ridge, can be found in the French guidebook "Les Aiguilles Rouges: Escalade au soleil" by Thomas Dulac and Godefroy Perroux.
For those desiring to reach the central summit, it can be ascended by mostly easy scrambling with one pitch of French 4c on the summit tower (a crack on the north ridge). The summit tower can also be climbed more easily by a small crack on the south face, followed by easy scrambling on the east face.
To reach Chamonix:
1) By bus from Geneva, operated by SAT, several buses daily. See the SAT website for schedule and pricing info. The bus takes a little less than 2 hours and stops also in Les Houches, a smaller village below Chamonix.
SAT Bus Company - Tel : + 33 4 50 78 05 33 / Fax : 33 4 50 78 07 62
2) By train via Martigny (Switzerland) when coming from the east or Saint Gervais (France) when coming from the west.
Swiss Rail Website
To reach the Aiguille de la Glière:
Travel from Chamonix to the smaller village of Les Praz, the departure point for the La Flégère-Index cable car. This can be reached by car (large parking lot) or by bus in 10 min from Chamonix. Take the bus heading to La Tour and get off at La Flégère. The bus runs about every 30 min during the summer and is 1.50 Euro one-way. Take the cable car to the top station (Index) and walk easily to the routes.
Chamonix Bus Schedules
Cable Car Prices/Schedules
There are no fees aside from the cost of the cable car (15.50 Euro round-trip to the Index station). Note that the cable car is typically open from mid-June to late-September and also during the winter for the skiing season.
When To Climb
Summer is the preferred season for climbing the Glière. The cable car runs from mid-June to late-September and ascents are typically made during this time. A winter ascent is certainly possible, but not often done.
There are many campsites in the villages of Chamonix, Les Praz, Argentiere, and Les Houches (usually around 7-12 Euro per night for a tent and one or two people). They are often very crowded during the high season. Camping is allowed in the mountains, near the Index station for example, but technically only permitted from dusk to dawn. Some people camp here for a few days in order to climb several routes in the Aiguilles Rouges without paying for multiple cable car tickets.
Chamonix Campsites Listing
The best source for current weather and route information in Chamonix is the Office de Haute Montagne. They can be reached by telephone or e-mail and conditions are often posted on the website.
Office de Haute Montagne Tél. + 33 (0) 4 50 53 22 08 / Fax +33 (0) 4 50 53 27 74
Chamonix Weather Site