Very popular rock route in the Aiguille Rouges on the opposite side of the Chamonix Valley from the Mont Blanc Range. It resembles an index finger as seen from the Valley in the La Praz section of Chamonix.
First ascended in 1913 by Benim Argussol, J. DeDemesme, and T. de Lepeney via the classic SE Ridge. Many of their original pitons remain on the original route and chances are you'll clip into one. The Index is a good introduction to the rock of the region and the view from the summit provides an excellent panoramic view of the entire Mont Blanc Massif.
SE Ridge: 5-6 pitches (old style short pitches) of III- IV with one or two moves of V. Most parties simul-climb the majority of the classic route.
A few newer routes in the 5a-6b range have been added to the southern face.
More information available in:
Mont Blanc Massif; 100 Finest Routes, by Gaston Rebuffat
Mont Blanc Massif: Selected Climbs, Volume II
There are two basic ways to approach the Chamonix Valley.
From the West (and in winter): Fly, drive, or train into Geneva and then take a train or bus into Chamonix which is one hour away along the Route Blanche. Once in Chamonix, the Chamonix Bus runs all day and until 9PM stopping at the various points downtown and the lifts leading to various climbing objectives. To get to the Index, take the bus or drive (direction Argentiere) the 2 KM east to La Praz and park at the Flegere lift. Take the lift up to the top station (Index) and walk 10 minutes to the large index finger shaped formation right next to the lift.
From the east (hitchhike or drive in warm months only): Drive from Bern through Montreux along Lake Geneva until you get to Martigny, Switzerland. From there, follow the well signed road 50 KM to Chamonix. This is the more scenic road to take if you have the time. The Flegere lift is on the right in La Praz 2 KM before you enter Chamonix proper.
There is ample parking there and the local buses run from all surrounding towns to the lifts. Take the lift up to the top station and then walk up 10-15 minutes to the start of the routes along a grassy ledge. Once atop the lift refer to the topo in the mountain condiitions section.
None but the Flegere-Index lift costs 15 Euros round trip (summer).
When To Climb
May-September are fine. Be aware that the Index is one of the most popular climbs in the region especially on weekends. It is one of the easiest ticks in Rebuffat's 100 Finest Routes book so be ready for company on the classic route and on the summit regardless. Still, once you see this one from the valley, you'll want to have a go at it.
Recommend you climb the nearby Chapelle de la Gliere, 2663m on the same day to get the most from the price of your lift ticket.
The route is still OK with some snow but the descent becomes much trickier in the couloir. If you insist on climbing this route in winter, bring an axe.
Descent - Important Note
It is recommended not to descend the coloir as described in the various guide books. With the large numbers of parties coming off the route and the loose nature of the coloir, the danger of stonefall is high. Bring 2 x 50m ropes for a full 50m rappel to the top of the coloir then scramble up the 25 meters up to another trail leading back to the lift. Once on the trail, after 80 or so meters scramble down another 4th class piece for 15 meters then reach a much flatter trail.
Camping at numerous sites in and around Chamonix.
If you prefer to stay in a hostel environment - two hostels in the area provide beds for 12 Euros (almost same price in $) and ready access to other climbers looking for partners.
The Gite de Vagabond caters primarily to English speakers and is located on the western side of Chamonix. Their website: www.gitevagabond.com
On the eastern end of Chamonix is the Chamoniard Volant which caters more to continental European climbers and has easy bus access. Their web site is: www.chamoniard.com
Great rock on a very nice ridge leading to a true summit.
Online weather available at: www.chamonixweather.com
In Chamonix - check the weather bulletin posted nightly (In French and English) at 5:30 PM at the Office de Haute Montagne (OHM) near the church in the center of town. Tel: 0450-532208.