OverviewLe Petit Fourche and its neighbor, Le Tete Blanche, are a very nice combination of mountains to be climbed in the Mont Blanc Range. They are not very demanding, but they require the right mix of skill or technical ability, therefore they are a very good training ground for beginners and a pleasant training ground for advance alpinists.
The combination Le Tete Blanche - Petite Fourche is considered by many one of the best climbs of the Alps. Gaston Rebufat included the combination on his book Mont Blanc Massif: the 100 Finest Routes, and also by Jean Lois Laroche and Florence Lelong on their Sommets du Mont Blanc. It is definetelly a great combination. a good picture for these two mountains can be found in here
Getting ThereDepending on what you plan, you can climb the Petite Fourche directly, or do the Le Tete Blanche - Petite Fourche.
For the Petite Fourche:
1) The CAF Albert Premier Hut (2707 mts) option. From the City of Le Tour, in the Chamonix Valley, take the cable car or to Charamillon and then the one La Balme. From here you will see a path that goes to the south, south-east, around the slopes of the Bec du Picheu, towards le Fenetre de Tour and then to the right side of the glacier (North side)
You can also hike to the hut from Le Tour. In such case (very hard) you will have to hike east from the Le Tour Cable Station towards the lateral (your left side) moraine of the Le Tour Glacier. Gain Le Fenetre de Tour and the moraine and hike to the hut. (2 Hrs).
The Albert Premier Hut telephone is (year 2003) +33 (0)4505 40620.
From here you have to hike via The Glacier du Tour, crossing on the north of the rognon called Signal Reilly, then cross the glacier moe or less in the middle towards the far southwest corner of it, to approach the Col Blanc, that is just in front of le Petit Fourche.
2) From CAS Cabine The Trient (3170 mts). This is the Swiss side of the Mont Blanc range, and the Cabine is located on the north east side of the glacier, right below the Pointe d' Orny. This cabin makes a very good acclimatization point, but is more expensive than the Albert Premier Hut.
The access to the hut can be done from the Orny Hut (1.5 hrs), from Le Champex via Fenetre de Chamois (5.5 hrs) or from the Village of Trient via Col du Ecandies (4 hrs). The hut can also be approached in winter via the Fenetre de Saleina and the Col du Chardonet (south side of the Trient Glacier)
The Le Tete Blanche and Petite Fourche are on the right side of the Col de Tour, the first big slope you see on the right side of it, facing the Trient Glacier.
To reach only the Petite Fourche either reach the Col du Tour or the Col Superior du Tour, and continue down west in the Glacier du Tour, eventually turning left (south) towards the Col Blanc. The choice of the Col du Tour or the Coll Superior du Tour all depends on snow conditions so please ask at the Hut or in Chamonix at Maison de la Montagne. ( telephone +33 (0)450532208)
RoutesLe Petite Fourche has been climbed in almost any direction and face, and its has an overall grade of F. The North West slope is the most popular climb, and one good terrain for training snow and low angle ice climb.
It is advised to complete the the Le Tete Blanche - Petite Fourche, involving first to climb the Tete Blanche on snow or rock, and then continue over the Col Blanche to Le Petite Fourche.
MapsThe IGN, the French authority for maps, has probably the best of the area:
Institut Géographique National
1:25000 no. 3531 ET (St-Gervais)
to order at: