OverviewThe Contamine-Mazeaud is a popular route on the Mont Blanc du Tacul's North Face, which is also known as the Triangle du Tacul. The route is located in the centre of the triangle and follows mostly snow and ice pitches with some easy mixed terrain near the top.
It is a little bit easier than the Chèré Couloir because it is less steep, but it does not have fixed bolts or much fixed gear, and therefore has a more alpine character.
The Contamine-Mazeaud is shown as route E in the following overview photo:
ApproachCatch the Aiguille du Midi telepherique up from Chamonix in the morning or start from either the Cosmiques Refuge or Abri Simond bivouac (in winter). The base of the Triangle du Tacul is reached by an easy walk across the Col du Midi.
Route DescriptionDuring the first rope length, keep left. Then go straight on and traverse to the right with the third rope length to mixed ground. Now you need still 4 rope lengths in order to traverse slightly to the right side so that you meet the Chèré Couloir at the end.
The view from the Contamine-Mazeaud is great, much better than from the Chèré Couloir, because it is wider.
Essential GearTwo technical axes, a few ice screws and some rock protection.
DescentFrom the end of the rock at the apex of the Triangle du Tacul (3970m) there are various options for descent, and the best choice will depend on the snow and serac conditions on the NW flank, which can be a bit treacherous at times - due caution is advised!
- From the apex of the triangle descend the NW Slope (150m, max 45°), which is directly adjacent to the rock on the W side. Abseils and/or down-climibing may be required. (see route 187. in "Snow, ice and mixed.")
- Ascend the North Ridge above the triangle and then traverse to the right into the NW flank of Mont Blanc du Tacul underneath the highest band of seracs to join the Normal Route.
- Ascend the North Ridge as far as the summit of the Mont Blanc du Tacul and then descend by the Normal Route.
- It is possible to abseil the Chèré Couloir, which has much fixed gear and several in-situ belay stations (especially for the lower pitches). Be aware, however, that this is a popular route and the safety of other parties should be respected. Don't drop rocks, ice, ropes, or similar onto their heads!