Some routes are written about because they are, in their own right, great routes; others are written about simply because they are there. I think it’s safe to say this route falls into the latter category, not exactly the stuff of mountain dreams. But, for reasons which I shall explain later, don’t write this route off just yet.
Firstly though, I think I should deal with the small matter of page taxonomy. Those familiar with this part of the Mont Blanc Range will probably know the Aiguille des Grands Montets for its cable car station. You can’t miss it; it sits right on top of the rocky outcrop that bares its name. It may be possible to give the little peak a mountain/rock page of its own, there are certainly summits here which have less prominence. But I’ve decided not to do that, it would be a very short page afterall, and instead bungle this route on its East Face in with those of the Petite Aiguille Vert. Most of its routes share the same start anyway.
Okay, taxonomy aside, it’s time to sell you the merits of this route. Firstly the approach, how many routes do you know where the approach mostly consists of a descents? Secondly, it’s an excellent route for beginners; teach your less experienced friends the art of moving with crampons, ice axe use, and glacier travel on a peak that doesn’t require a major commitment (the cable car station is never far away). Thirdly, when you intend to climb at altitude you need to acclimatise first. Do it ere without knackering yourself out. Fourthly and finally, do it for the view, they don’t come much better. So set aside any prejudices you may have and enjoy!
|First Ascent||July 1863 by A.A. Reilly with guides Henri Charlet and Alexander Albrecht|
|Grade||Easy (F) however in poor snow conditions it can get quite icy and can be as much as a grade higher (PD)|
|Difficulties||Steep snow to around 30º with two bergschunds providing the main challange|
|Elevation Gain||180 metres, between 3120 and 3297 metres|
|Time||Around two hours from the Col des Grands Montets to the summit, add extra time for the cable car|
The Aiguille des Grands Montets cable car station is located in Argentiere just north of Chamonix. The station has a big car park, and is also serviced by a regular bus service and is within walking distance of the railway station. If your staying in the area you will get a free bus and train pass so both options are worth considering.
When to Climb and Essential Gear
Most people choose to climb in June, July and August. You will need an alpine style ice-axe, crampons, harness, rope, sunglasses and warm clothing.