Aiguille de la Varappe is a superb peak built in the typical pure red protogyn granite of Mont Blanc. It's the Westernmost summit and the highest one of Aiguilles Dorées, lying in the Swiss side of Mont Blanc Group. The Aiguilles Dorées count different summits, from West to East: Petit Aiguille de la Fenetre m. 3350, Aiguille de la Fenetre m. 3412, Aiguille de la Varappe m. 3519, Aiguilles Penchées m. 3505, Pointe Fynn m. 3450, Tete Biselx m. 3509, Aiguilles Sans Nom m. 3444, Trident n. 3436, Aiguille Javelle m. 3435 and Tete Crettex m. 3419.
A fine and panoramic middle class route to the summit of Aiguille de la Varappe is the classic Aiguilles Dorées Traversèe. The most interesting faces are S and SW, overlooking the Saleina Glacier and getting the sun at 10.00-11.00 until 17.00 in full summer. Some modern wonderful routes had been traced on the exceptional granite of the South-West face; the classic one and most frequently climbed is "Eole danza per noi". Can't be missed!
The starting point is the small village of Champex m. 1466, near the town of Martigny (Switzerland).
- Road approach
- From Milan and Turin: follow the A5 Motorway. Exit Aosta Est and follow the road S27 towards the Tunnel of Gran San Bernardo or the Col of Gran San Bernardo, getting to Martigny and Champex. - From Chamonix: follow towards North the road to Argentiere and the France-Switzerland border, getting to Champex.
- Walking approach
Aiguille de la Varappe SW face can be approached both from the Cabane d'Orny m. 2831 and the higher Cabane du Trient m. 3170, on the same trail.
From Champex mt. 1466 you can get by chair-lift (in summer open from 8.30 AM to 17.15 PM) to the upper station of La Breya and then follow the good trail to the Cabane d'Orny (2,15 hours from Champex). Alternatively the approach entirely by walking requires 4,30 hours from Champex to the shelter. The hut is situated in a spectacular position, overlooking the Orny Glacier and Petit Clocher du Portalet, near the small lake named Lac de l’Ancient Cabane. The upper shelter lies nearby the Orny Col (1 hour from. Cabane d'Orny)
Info about the chair-lift: Tele Champex
From the hut follow the path towards the Cabane du Trient, reaching the Orny Glacier and then the Orny Col. From here gain the flat surface of Trient Glacier (Plateau du Trient) and cross the glacier walking towards SW; after surrounding a rocky ridge entering the glacier, gain a small saddle named Fenêtre de Saleina. Descent in the opposite side of the saddle heading to Aiguille de la Varappe South-West Face and skirting the face very close to the base of the wall. (about 2 hours and a half from Cabane d’Orny)
Aiguille de la Varappe main routes
The classic one...
- Traversée Intégrale des Aiguilles Dorées (Aiguilles Dorées crossing) D-, UIAA IV, 400 m. - First ascent: V.A. Flynn, W.J. Murphy, 1892, august 30th (from West to East)
A very long and superb ridge (now to be climbed from East to West) with breathtaking views. The starting point is the brèche Crettez. The climbing difficulties are medium, but the route is running in altitude and engaging (10 hours up and down). A 30 mt. long pitch out of the standard of the route (5c/6a or A1) is required in case of bad conditions of the snow traverse between Col Copt and Tete Biselx.
...and the wonderful modern routes on South and South-West faces (French Scale)
- Et je suis le vent ED/6b+ ( 6a+ obbl. ) 380 mt. Extraordinary, the most difficult of the face
- Eole danza per noi TD+ / 6a 400 mt., 11 pitches (4b, 5c, 5c, 5c, 6a, 5b, 6a, 6a, 5b, 5c, 6a, 5c) - First ascent: Michel Piola, Laurent Monnet, Pierre Gravante 1990 The excellent super classic route of the face. Equipped with spaced bolts. Friends are useful.
- C'est Mozart qu'on assassiné? TD+ / 6a+ 350 mt., 10 pitches (5c, 5c, 5a, 6b, 5c, 6a, 6a+, 6a, 5b, 6a+) Another superb route. Equipped by spaced bolts. Small and medium friends are useful.
- Le Chants du Midi TD+ / 6a 380 mt., 11 pitches (5c, 6a+, 6a+, 5a, 5c, 4a, 6a, 5c, 6a, 6a, 6a) - First ascent: Walter Josi, Tobias Dolliger, Claude Zulauf 1995
- Les Strapontins du Paradis TD+ / 6a 380 mt., 14 pitches (5b, 5c, 5c, 4c, 6a, 5c, 5c, 5c, 4b, 4b, 5c, 5c, 5c, 4c) - First ascent: Walter Josi, Fabrice Pini 1995
There are not particulary restrictions in climbing and hiking.
- Cabane d'Orny 2831 m - SAC (Swiss Alpine Club “Les Diablerets”) Situation: Swiss side of Mont Blanc Group - Left shore of Orny Glacier, between two little lakes Open: open all year long, guarded in summer from 10.06 to 20.09 Size: 90 persons + 30 in the winter-shelter Guardians: Patricia and Raymond Angeloz - Pradurand 1991 Salins Hut's phone : 0041 277831887
- Cabane du Trient m. 3170 SAC (Swiss Alpine Club “Les Diablerets”) Situation: Swiss side of Mont Blanc Group - Col d'Orny Open: from middle March to middle May and from middle June to middle September Size: 140 persons + 40 in the winter-shelter Guardians: Mélanie & Olivier Genet Rte du Coteau 29 1927 Chemin-Dessus Hut's phone : 0041 277831438
- Biv. "L’Envers des Dorées" m. 2980
"Monte Bianco classico e plaisir" by Marco Romelli - Idea Montagna
"Schweiz Plaisir West" by Andreas Mürner – Edition Filidor, 2012
"Schweiz Plaisir West" by Jurg von Kanel – Edition Filidor
"Entremont Escalades" by Olivier Roduit, 2011
"Sommets du Mont Blanc: les plus belles courses de F à D" by Jean-Louis Laroche - Florence Lelong, 2010
"Guide du Valais - du Trient au Nufenen" by Hermann Biner, 1996
IGN 3630OT Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc
Swiss National map 1:25 000 Sheet 1345 Orsières
Swiss National map 1:50 000 Sheet 282 Martigny