The Aiguilles Crochues (crochues meaning "hooked") 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. Unlike the Chamonix Aiguilles and peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif, which are composed of granite, the rock on this side of the valley is gneiss, similar to limestone, which tends to be quite smooth and thus difficult to climb when wet. However, since the peaks are relatively low in altitude, the routes tend to dry quickly after bad weather and are excellent choices when the weather is unsuitable for longer routes on the Mont Blanc side of the valley. This range also includes:
Aiguille de la Persévérance
Aiguille de la Glière
Aiguille de l'Index
La Grande Floria
The term "Aiguilles Crochues" refers to a series of peaks lying on the main ridgeline between the Col des Crochues (2,704 m) to the west and the Col des Dards (2,790 m) to the east. The highest peak is Pointe Sud, although Pointe Nord (2,837 m) and Pointe Central (2,834 m) are nearly equivalent in height. A foresummit known as the Petite Crochue lies west of the main summits and, since it is lower in height, gives the peak its characteristic hook shape. A long, secondary ridge extends from the main summit to the southeast and includes some additional rock climbs, most notably on the Tour des Crochues (see Route Overview section).
In addition to the easy approach, the Aiguilles Crochues offers fantastic views towards the larger peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif, inclduing Mont Blanc itself. The Traverse is an excellent choice for a first route for beginning alpine climbers, since it is relatively short and never too difficult.
The Aiguilles Crochues is well-known for two alpine rock routes, one a simple scramble which traverses the peak from the Col des Crochues to the Col des Dards, and the other a moderate rock climb on the east face of the Petite Crochue. The Traverse is graded PD with one pitch of French 3+/4 in a large chimney/corner. The rest of the traverse is easy scrambling, mostly 2 with a few short sections of 3. The East Face is slightly harder, graded AD, and involves 4 pitches of rock climbing up to French 4c. Both routes are justifiably popular, due to their short, one hour approach from the top station of the Index cable car. The Traverse takes about 1.5 hours from the Col des Crochues and the East Face between 2 and 4 hours to climb the face and finish the traverse.
In addition to the popular routes above, two routes also exist on the Tour des Crochues, a prominent tower on a secondary ridge of the Aiguilles Crochues (see photo). These routes are reached easily in 30-40 min from the Index cable car by following the path towards Lac Blanc.
Voie de Galbert-Escande -- First ascent D. Escande and P. de Galbert 1970, 200 m in 7 pitches, 4-5 hours, French 5a. This is the right-hand route on the tower.
Voie Bron-Gamboni -- First ascent M. Bron and I. Gamboni 1954, 200 m in 6 pitches, 4-5 hours, French 6a (5c obligatory). This is the left-hand route.
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 Aiguilles Crochues:
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 Crochues. 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