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Cosmique Refuge

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Cosmique Refuge

Postby etunar » Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:00 pm

I was thinking of spending few days in this area to do a bit of landscape photography. I thought cosmique refuge would be a perfect place for me to spend 2-3 days and explore the area. From the pictures I can see, it doesn't look difficult/tricky around the hut. However pictures can be misleading so I am looking for more information whether this is a good idea or not for someone with limited experience?

I have no alpine experience, but I am not planning on doing anything other walking around the hut basically. I have some experience with winter hiking in UK with crampons.

I realized that there is a very narrow ridge to descent from Aiguille Du Midi. Since I will be on my own, how difficult is this ridge to descent? I am ok with heights, however I realize that a slip here may be fatal and I don't want to go there only to find that it's not something i can do. I tried to find more information but it is quite limited other than youtube videos. So I was hoping someone here might be able to help me?

Does it sound like something doable, or am I underestimating the area between the aiguille du midi and cosmique refuge?

Thanks
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby bidasking » Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:52 pm

Based on the information you have provided the approach to the Cosmique refuge is too difficult for your experience level if you are solo. It's correct, a slip to the left without proper self-arrest knowledge would surely be fatal. However there are anchor posts in the ice you could abseil from for protection. More importantly however, there isn't really much terrain around the hut that you could reasonably "explore". It's an area that should be travelled while roped up, with a partner.
Last edited by bidasking on Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby rgg » Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:02 am

I totally agree with bidasking; without alpine experience, going to the Cosmique Refuge is a very bad idea.

I've got a couple of alternative suggestions that you might check out though:

- A bit north of Chamonix, Refuge Albert 1er lies in a beautiful spot, right next to a big glacier, yet to get to the hut you don't have to cross it. You can take pictures around the hut, and touch the ice if you like.
- Across the valley from Mont Blanc are the Aiguilles Rouges. No real glaciers there, just a few remnant ice fields, but you get great views of the Mont Blanc massif. There are several refuges; I once had a pleasant stay at Refuge du Lac Blanche. If the weather cooperates, you can take pictures of big glaciated mountains with reflections in the lake.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby yetibreath » Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:20 am

I have spent the night at the Cosmique Refuge and I have climbed up the ridge to the Aiguille Du Midi. The ridge is a technical rock climb in the summer and has one difficult section requiring an abseil near the middle of the ascent. Climbing down the ridge would require climbing up very difficult rock in that section. I would not recommend this approach, especially solo in the winter. It is possible to reach the Cosmique Refuge by down climbing steep snow to the glacier below and then hiking over to the Refuge. I did this in the summer using crampons and an ice ax. The snow conditions in the winter will be very different than the snow that I climbed and there may be significant avalanche danger. I agree with the previous climbers: the Cosmique Refuge is not the best choice for your photo trip.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby bidasking » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:18 am

Across the valley from Mont Blanc are the Aiguilles Rouges. No real glaciers there, just a few remnant ice fields, but you get great views of the Mont Blanc massif. There are several refuges; I once had a pleasant stay at Refuge du Lac Blanche. If the weather cooperates, you can take pictures of big glaciated mountains with reflections in the lake.


This is your best bet.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby etunar » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:26 pm

yetibreath wrote:I have spent the night at the Cosmique Refuge and I have climbed up the ridge to the Aiguille Du Midi. The ridge is a technical rock climb in the summer and has one difficult section requiring an abseil near the middle of the ascent. Climbing down the ridge would require climbing up very difficult rock in that section. I would not recommend this approach, especially solo in the winter. It is possible to reach the Cosmique Refuge by down climbing steep snow to the glacier below and then hiking over to the Refuge. I did this in the summer using crampons and an ice ax. The snow conditions in the winter will be very different than the snow that I climbed and there may be significant avalanche danger. I agree with the previous climbers: the Cosmique Refuge is not the best choice for your photo trip.


I was talking about that steep snowy ridge descent you mentioned, not the rocky ridge. It looks straight forward but it is very narrow and steep, so I wouldn't want to risk it with no ice axe skills.


Thanks everyone for your input and confirming what I thought might be the case. Hope I didn't sound like an idiot asking about this. I am a sensible person when it comes to mountains and wouldn't do anything beyond my limit. So I definitely won't be doing this trip this summer. Meanwhile I'll try to go to one of those winter mountaineering courses next winter.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby english_alpinist » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:30 am

Nothing idiotic about your enquiry. it's really impossible to know the difficulty of the terrain out there until you've done it. One person's comfort level is another's insanity. If this helps.. I went out there on my first trip to the Alps, after only 2 practise expeditions with crampons and mountain axe (Helvellyn and Ben Nevis). I felt this was enough, and it just about was. However, the Arete from the gondola station scared the living crap out of me. It was not difficult, depending on how naturally balanced you are (some people can't balance on a flight of steps), just a huge test of nerve. One slip would indeed be fatal. You speak of 'skills': basically it's just knowing how to place your feet wearing crampons (ie making sure the points are grounded as much as possible and not tripping over yourself, it's not rocket science). The mountain axe is basically a walking stick to plant in the snow and assist balance. Crucially, it's an insurance in case you slip, in which case arrest skills do come into it and probably should be practised. I think it might well have saved my life on Ben Nevis when I sat down on a slope and started sliding. Not sure if this would be enough to save yourself on the Gondola Arete anyway, as the mountain face is so steep there. Some climbers go down there roped up (not sure if this would save them either, but might pull both down).
Another factor, maybe even more significant and hard to predict (everybody varies) is the altitude. After a full day out there I found I was almost too exhausted to get back up the Arete even though I thought I'd acclimatized sensibly. You can't predict your levels until you've done it at least once. You might find you get down the Arete safely but need rescuing to get back up. If the weather becomes unsettled (wind gusting, cloud drifting, a touch of snowfall) it could feel even more perilous to get back up. Despite the massive numbers going up and down it every season, nobody ever seems to fall of it (except the occasional story where caught in a storm). This surprises me frankly. To cut a long story short: it's bloody scary, but mainly mind over matter. Basic crampon and mountain axe skills (I do mean basic) essential.
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Re: Cosmique Refuge

Postby english_alpinist » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:34 am

Also, remember 'hut etiquette' - no crampons inside. Don't get on the wrong side of the warden there. She's an absolute bitch If you're not a guide, and won't care if you live or die. I found almost everybody else out there helpful and friendly though.
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