American direct (Directe Americaine)

American direct (Directe Americaine)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 45.93270°N / 6.95570°E
Additional Information Route Type: Rock climb
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: ED (extremely difficult) French scale
Sign the Climber's Log


2 main ways to reach the "rognon du Dru", which is the base of the climb:
1) reach the Montenvers by train and walk across the Mer de Glace to the "chemin du chapeau" (paint marks of the rocks on the right bank of the Mer de Glace). Leave the way to the left after about 1 hour, reach the moraine and climb it at the best towards the base of the west face (about 3 hours from the Montenvers, rather strenuous)
2) reach the Grands Montets by the cable. Then go down the glacier du Nant Blanc towards the left, then walk up to the base of the west face. Less strenuous but the itinerary is more complicated

Route Description

At any time of the climb, try to remember that this route was first climbed in 1962 and that most of it was free climbing already ! The climb is rather athletic, even in the easiest pitches. Don't trust the topo when it mentions 5+, especially since the whole climb is not far from 1000 meters.
From the highest part of the Rognon du Dru, cross almost horizontally the glacier to a ridge of the "socle". The first part of the ascent in the "socle" is not too difficult (5+ max) but already athletic. Amazingly, this part of the ascent is bolted !
After the socle, reach the base of a long crack almost vertical and straight (6b, about 5 pitches)
Reach, sligthly in the left direction, the base of the diedre Mailly. After 2 pitches inside the diedra, cross to the right to reach the "bloc coincé". Good place for a bivouac there.
After the bloc coincé, 3 difficult pitches (6c) then cross horizontally to the right (rope in place). The route passes in the middle of impressive overhangs to reach the North face.

Essential Gear

After the socle (which is equipped whith bolts !!?), there is little gear in the easiest pitches, a few pitons and even 2 or 3 old wood edges in some harder parts. Belays are usually sound (the route can be rappelled from the bloc coincé)
Bring a whole set of friends ans nuts. No pitons needed.
45 m rope required.

Miscellaneous Info

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Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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El Tigre Valderrama

El Tigre Valderrama - Aug 18, 2002 8:09 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

The route was first climbed by Americans Royal Robins and Gary Hemming. Robbins, during his visit to the French Alps in the summer of 1962, he opened two very famous, now classic routes on this peak that is called specifically Le Petit Dru: one is the route described here, American Direct (or Robbins-Hemming Direct, rated ED, 24-26 July) and the other is the American Directissima (or the Robbins-Harlin Direct, rated ED3, 10-13 Aug) with John Harlin.

The America Direct described here was first climbed in winter time by A.Bellic and I Koller, 28 Feb-5 March 1975.


bruno.carbonne - Aug 19, 2002 5:57 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

The Americans Hemming and Robins, used to Yosemite big walls, were very at ease on the granit of Chamonix. Their ascent of the west face was remarkable because most of the ascent was free climbing, contrary to the first route of the West face in 1952 by the French Dagory, Lainé, Berardini and Magnone

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