A beautiful mountain from the Sélé hut. Les Vires - the rocky traverse around the buttress for the first half is not so complicated but requires some route-finding experience. There are lots of cairns. The snow sections above was a pleasure. Our party of 9 found no need to rope up as the snow was not so hard and would have been easy to self arrest. Of course we took ropes with us. No rock gear is needed.
Send you a PM. In short, for the others: It depends very much on the conditions what the most difficult section of this trip is. I wouldn't rate it F. Better look up the french database for actual conditions, eg. [url="http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/53807/fr/ailefroide-orientale-arete-s-voie-normale"]camp2camp[\url].
I'm thinking of climbing Ailfroide this summer. But I can't find really detailed information about the climb. I'm in doubt about one particular passage, called 'le grande viret' or so. A rocky passage at the beginning of the climb (after the old hut) which has to be passed by horizontal scrambling. My question is, maybe you know the answer: Is it necessary to use ropes to pass this passage? And, if yes, are there already hooks (?) in the wall? Afterwards it's just easy scrambling and glacierwalking, isn't it?
Much in contrast to the Eberlein guidebook ("mostly on snow, F") the route in this very warm summer was mostly free from snow. Nevertheless the loss of glacier that once covered the S arrete seems to be irreversible.
Steepness of the short remaining pieces of glacier seems to have increased due to this, as the actual french guidebook has now raised the difficulty from F to PD. The glacier is broken up in two parts divided by a rocky section (UIAA I). The lower part had few crevasses, was less steep but icy, whereas the upper section (~35°) seems to be more a snowfield than a glacier.
Due to a short detour in morning fog it took us 5.5h from our tent near to the hut up to the summit. View down to the Glacier Noir is impressive. Quite secluded compared to the crowds on Glacier Blanc.