Aiguilles Rouges

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 45.95783°N / 6.85547°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Scrambling, Skiing
Additional Information Elevation: 9186 ft / 2800 m
Sign the Climber's Log

The Aiguilles Rouges

The Aiguilles Rouges - meaning Red Peaks - are a mountain range in the French Alps located above the town of Chamonix and the Valleé de l'Arve,  rising to an elevation of 2,965m/9,728ft (Aiguille du Belvédère). They offer numerous objectives for climbing, hiking and mountain biking in the summer, and groomed (on piste) and powder skiing/boarding in the winter. The range is situated just in front of a world-famous neighbor: the Mont Blanc!

These magnificent “Aiguilles” are lying like an awesome balcony towards the Northern side of Mont Blanc group: the view over the main summit and over the Aiguilles de Chamonix is exceptional!  From the point of view of the climb, it is to be noted that the gneiss of Aiguilles Rouges is less rough than the Mont Blanc granite, but it’s rich of sharp holds: the climbing way is very pleasant and technical. Moreover, the advantage is that it's often possible to climb on Aiguille Rouges massif when the unsettled weather precludes the ascents in the Mont Blanc group.

Lac Blanc, Aiguilles Rouges
Lac Blanc, Aiguilles Rouges - Photo Andreas Fisher

Most of the range can be easily accessed thanks to the Brévent and Flégère lifts directly from the towns of Chamonix and Les Praz, operating almost year-round. On clear days you have spectacular views of the north side of the Mont Blanc massif just across the valley. A large part of the range has been declared as the Réserves Naturelles des Aiguilles Rouges in 1974. There are two info points, the visitors center Chalet du col des Montets and a small building right on top of Le Brévent. 

Aiguilles Rouges
Aiguilles Rouges - Photo om

 

Getting there

The starting point is Chamonix-Mont Blanc m. 1087.

Main road approach to Chamonix

- From Aosta Valley (Italy) - Follow the E25 Motorway towards Courmayeur, then the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Chamonix (65 km. from Aosta)

- From Martigny (Switzerland) - Follow the road leading to the Switzerland – France border, then to the village of Argentiere and to Chamonix (45 km. from Martigny, 13 km. from the border)

- From Geneve (Switzerland) - Follow the E25 Motorway to St. Gervais les Bains, then the RN 205 to Chamonix

Approach to the range by lifts

- With the Brévent cable car starting  from Chamonix 

- With La Flégere cable car and Index lift starting from the village of Les Praz (3 km. NE from Chamonix). 

Aiguilles de Chamonix labelled panorama from Aiguilles Rouges
Aiguilles de Chamonix labelled panorama from Aiguilles Rouges

Hiking

There are lots of great trails on the Aiguilles Rouges massif. You can start every hike from the bottom of the valley, or use the lifts to start higher up. From the south side of the range (Chamonix side) the views of the north side of the Mont Blanc massif are spectacular. From the north side of the range you have great views of the Fiz massif (2,802m/9,193ft) with its prominent vertical wall below the summit, as well as a number of surrounding ranges and peaks. Consequently, the main ridge offers superb round views, such as the lift accessible summit of Le Brévent.

Popular trails and sights include:

Lac Blanc (m.2352)
Lac Blanc (m.2352)
  • Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs (both 2,276m/7,467ft), two lakes close to each other.
  • Chalet La Floria (1,350m/4,429ft); Cute little hut in the woods decorated with lots of flowers. Open for snacks and beverages in summer months only. Short hike from the valley.
  • Le Brévent (2,525m/8,284ft)
  • Petit Balcon Sud trail; Longer trail in the lower elevations from Argentière to Servoz.

Climbing

The Aiguilles Rouges are home to several popular lower-grade rock climbing routes that are considered good introductions to alpine climbing. There is a small climbing crag close to the summit of Le Brévent (lift service from Chamonix), as well as a few other less-easily accessible crags along the south side of the range. Some of the harder climbing routes can be found on the prominent vertical south-facing wall just below the summit of Le Brévent. With the help of the lifts, virtually every outing on the Aiguilles Rouges can be done as a day trip. Note that popular routes generally get a lot of traffic. An early start is always beneficial. 

Aiguilles Rouges View from Le Brévent. The shaded wall in the front left is the climbing crag.
Enjoying the views . . . Chapelle de la Glière

Some suggestions:

Classic, Lower-Grade Climbs

Arête Rouge, Aiguillette de la Floria
Arete Rouge, Aiguillette de la Floria

 

Beautiful crack on Brunat-Perroux route, Aiguille de l'Index
Beautiful crack on Brunat-Perroux route, Aiguille de l'Index

Upper-Grade Climbs

On Clocher de Planpraz, facing Mont Blanc
On Clocher de Planpraz, facing Mont Blanc
Steep wall on Gaspard Premier
Steep wall on Gaspard Premier

Crags

  • Les Gaillands (very close to Chamonix; parking right in front of it, generally crowded)
  • Servoz (a good 10km down the valley from Chamonix, right next to a road)
  • Coupeau (nearby Les Houches, close to a road)
  • Le Brévent (a small crag close to the summit of Le Brévent)
  • La Joux (between Chamonix and Argentière, 10 minute hike-in)
  • Monolithe de la Chauffria (between Chamonix and Argentière, 30 minute hike-in)
  • Aiguillette d'Argentière

Mountain Biking

Allowed on designated trails only. Mountain bikes are allowed on the Planpraz (halfway up Le Brévent) and Flégère lifts between around mid June and mid September.

Paragliding

There is a paragliding take-off site a few minutes uphill from the Planpraz lift station (halfway up Le Brévent) at an elevation of around 2,000m/6,600ft (1,000m/3,300ft above the valley).

Flying over Mont Blanc massif
Flying over between Aiguilles Rouges and Mont Blanc massif

Red Tape

Aiguilles Rouges near Lac Blanc
Aiguilles Rouges near Lac Blanc

 

A large part of the range has been declared as the Réserves Naturelles des Aiguilles Rouges in 1974. Anyhow there is no particular restriction.

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay

Chamonix is a primary destination, offering various kinds of accommodation (hotels, huts, gites, renting rooms). Numberless campsites are situated both in the Northern and Southern ends of the town.
Main campsites:
 
- Camping la Mer de Glace,  Les Praz (3 km. North to Chamonix) +33(0)450534403
- Camping les Deux Glaciers,
  Les Bossons (3 km. South to Chamonix) +33(0)450531584
- Camping les Arolles,  close to the centre of Chamonix - +33(0)450531430
- Camping les Cimes, Les Bossons (3 km. South to Chamonix) +33(0)450535893
- Camping les Marmottes, +33(0)450536124
- Camping Glacier d'Argentière, Argentière (8 km. North to Chamonix) +33(0)450541736

 Meteo

Meteo Chamonix

Guidebooks and maps

There are two main book stores in Chamonix that stock loads of climbing-related literature, including guide books and maps.

Guide Books

  • Les Aiguilles Rouges 1 (Michel Piola). New in 2008, Volume 2 to follow. French only, but supposedly very useful even if you don't understand the text parts.
  • Les Aiguilles Rouges (Thomas Dulac, Godefroy Perroux) (French only)
  • Mont Blanc & the Aiguilles Rouges selected climbs guidebook 
  • The Mont Blanc Massif: The 100 Finest Routes (Gaston Rébuffat) (several editions)
  • Crag Climbs in Chamonix (François Burnier, Dominique Potard). Available in English (ISBN 2910672131) and French.
  • Mont Blanc Massif: Selected Climbs (Lindsay Griffin) (Volumes I and II, ISBN 0900523573 and 0900523581)
  • Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges: A Guide for Skiers (Anselme Baud) (ISBN 1904207278)
Mont Blanc & the Aiguilles Rouges selected climbs guidebook
Mont Blanc & the Aiguilles Rouges selected climbs guidebook
Les Aiguilles Rouges Guidebook
Les Aiguilles Rouges Guidebook

 

Maps

The blue series maps (1:25,000) from the French Geographic Institute (IGN) are all you need. Suggestions:

  • Map 3630 OT, "Chamonix massif du Mont Blanc", covers most of the Mont Blanc massif and the Aiguilles Rouges.
  • Map 1344, "Col De Balme", covers most of the Aiguilles Rouges.

Other Resources

Office du Tourism de Chamonix -  Phone +33 0450 530024
Office de la Haute Montagne de Chamonix - Phone +33 0450 532208
Flegere-Index cable car info -  Phone +33 0450 532275

Chamonix lifts: www.compagniedumontblanc.fr

Detailed mountain weather forecasts in English and French (with webcam): http://www.chamonix-meteo.com/

A great info point about routes, conditions, and weather is the Office de Haute Montagne (OHM) in Chamonix (next to the church). http://www.ohm-chamonix.com

Geology

I'm not much of a geologist, so please refer to more competent sources, such as: http://www.rnaiguillesrouges.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aiguilles_Rouges http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aiguilles_Rouges (in French)

Trivia

There's a French film titled "Les Aiguilles rouges" (2006) telling a fictional story of eight scouts who get lost trying to climb Le Brévent. It's filmed on-site. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478548/

"Ian Fleming, when writing the fictional biography of James Bond, mentioned that Bond's parents were killed in a mountain climbing accident in the Aiguilles Rouges near Chamonix, when the future secret agent was eleven-year-old." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aiguilles_Rouges]

Aiguilles RougesThe Aiguilles Rouges in morning sunshine seen from the Aiguille du Midi east ridge.
Aiguilles RougesThe Aiguilles Rouges as seen from the trail between Nid d'Aigle and the Tete Rousse hut.


Children

Children

Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.