The Aiguille du Moine rises directly behind the Refuge du Couvercle, and stands at the base of the convoluted Moine ridge of the Aiguille Verte, more often taken in descent than in ascent.
There are several frequently climbed routes to the summit, plus some rather necky rock routes. Topos for these are available at the Office de Haute Montagne
The easiest route, the South face, is PD- and is climbed very frequently, in Winter as well as in Summer. Descent can be rather tricky, and may often take as long as the ascent, with several abseils towards the bottom. Follow the cairns, but make sure you have at least two 45 m ropes for double rappels!
The base of the mountain, which rises from its own micro glacier, is reached in half an hour from the Couvercle hut. Crossing the bergschrund onto the slabs can be tricky.
The Couvercle hut is about two and a half hours from the Rack and Pinion train station of Montenvers (a return ticket was 13 Euros in June 2002) reached by crossing the Mer de Glace and following the lateral moraines (red markers) to the foot of a series of ladders fastened on to slabs that rise from the edge of the glacier.
Montenvers is a further three hours on foot from Chamonix town centre, and is a very pleasant wooded walk if the weather is not too hot. It beats taking the train down with noisy tourists, anyway!
Valley Bases in the Chamonix area are too numerous to describe here. The campsite I tend to use is called 'Les Chosalets', situated in Argentière, 20 minutes above Chamonix. It's a pretty well equipped campsite, with decent amenities; a fairly multinational poulation (though few French), and you can lie on your back and look at the Aiguille d'Argentière from your tent in the morning - inspirational stuff!
There are also gites and chalets to rent in the area, and of course other campsites. For details of these, try the official Chamonix site: Chamonix.com
, in French and English.
No permits or passes are required. You are advised to leave details of your intended itinerary at the hut.
When To Climb
The routes, though probably not the sportier rock climbs (!) can be done all year round. Indeed, the lower couloir used in descent is so loose and wet that it's probably quite good in Winter. There are crampon scratches all over the rock, particularly towards the base. Route finding can be tricky, but this allows for a more 'adventurous' approach to the ascent! Last time I climbed this, we found a lovely curving layback crack at about UK 5a by attempting to take a superdirect approach from the base.
The Couvercle hut (French Alpine Club), at 2687m altitude, is 30 minutes' walk from the base of the climb. The hut has 151 beds and the winter hut (see picture) has 22. The main hut even has proper indoor toilets!
Accommodation is 8 Euros for CAF or reciprocal club members, and 16 Euros for all others. Call +33(0) 4 50 47 23 99 to reserve.
There are excellent bivouac sheltered sites close to the hut around the couvercle stone, as well as some terraces close to the path below the hut. There are some small streams below the glacier du moine. Just make sure you take all your litter, empty tins etc with you please.
The hut is an excellent view point for the Mont Blanc range, from the Courtes right round to the Aiguille du Midi.
Several other worthwhile routes can be undertaken from the Couvercle hut, so if you are in the area, the Moine could be done as a first day 'warm up' outing.
The Aiguille Verte, the Courtes, and the Grandes Jorasses can all be approached from the Couvercle, though for this last, it is better to cross the glacier and bivouac at the foot of the face. The famous Whymper couloir on the Aiguille Verte is on this side of the mountain.
- Chamonix weather forecast
Published at the Maison des Guides in Chamonix, this is the online version of the weather forecast for the Chamonix valley. Updated daily. French version here.
- The Office de Haute Montagne
The Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix has route information, guide books, topos, weather forecasts, mountain guide service... It's a great place to visit for any kind of information if you're in Chamonix.
- Mountain Guide Adventure - Chamonix Mont-Blanc Mountain Guide - France
A Mountain Guide team will help you to realize your mountain and adventure dreams . A Mountain Guide team in Chamonix propose : mountaineering, alpine rock climbing, ice climbing, heliskiing, ski touring, off piste skiing and expeditions all over the world.