The Esperon Migot on the Aiguille du Chardonnet (known in English as the North Spur) is a classic, short (450m of climbing), mixed route.
It is number 43 in Gaston Rebuffat's The Mont Blanc Massif: The 100 Finest Routes. He describes it as a good introduction to the medium difficulty mixed climbs like the NNE Spur of the Courtes.
It is also a very nice route in itself, with lovely views of the Aiguille du Tour as the sun rises and great views of the Aiguille Verte from the summit.
The route itself is D-, so is only a bit harder than the other classic of the mountain - Forbes Arete. However, it is not as popular so might be worth considering if it looks like the other route will be crowded.
The descent down the West ridge is quite easy if the snow is hard and there are tracks to follow (as when we did it), but would be horrible under soft conditions. Being happy downclimbing steep snow above enormous crevasses is advisable!
Start from the Albert Premier Refuge. This can be reached by either walking from Le Tour (3/4 hours) , or catching a cable-car followed by a chairlift and then 1 hour walk. The hut tends to be busy with people climbing the Aiguille du Tour or doing the 3-cols walking route, so booking is always required. There are bivouac sites above the hut, but as the hut has the option to bring and cook your own food for free, why bother?
From the Albert Premier, you cross the Le Tour Glacier to reach the start of the route. The glacier is heavily crevassed in the middle, so the normal route is to follow the tracks towards the Aiguille du Tour and take a traverse line past the Forbes Arete to the base of the spur. Early in the season it is possible to approach the route directly, but it is advisable to head slightly right, as a completely direct line goes through pressure ridges.
Guidebook time for the route if 6 hours from the hut. The descent is via the West ridge takes 3 hours and is tricky, particularly under soft snow conditions. We left the hut at 2am, but some parties leave at 1am.
From the base of the spur go into the bay on the right, cross the bergshrund and take snowy slabs and corners up left. When we did the route, this was the trickiest bit, with a small amount of exposed mixed climbing (Scottish grade III) which we quickly pitched. Go up and right on easier ground to a snow saddle on the ridge proper. Continue upwards to a rock band (opportunity for good photo looking down the snow crest).
Continue on the crest a much as possible taking chimney lines, sometimes going to the left. In general the climbing is fairly straightforward. Towards the top of the rock band there is a chimney which may be loose and worth belaying.
Above the rock band a second snow crest leads to a wall below the summit which is outflanked on the left to reach the East (Forbes) ridge. This snow crest is quite icy (ice-screws) in the top section. Good belay available on the east ridge. From the ridge, an obvious traverse to the South side leads to a chimney to the very small summit.
A normal alpine mixed rack with a couple of extra ice-screws for the icy top section is sufficient.
- Two axes, crampons
- 9mm 50m rope
- lots of double-length slings (very good spike belays throughout the route)
- Some wires,
- Size 0.5, 1, 2 friends
- 3 ice-screws
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.