Arête Forbes / Forbes ridge

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France, Europe
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Time Required:
Most of a day

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Arête Forbes / Forbes ridge
Created On: Aug 9, 2009
Last Edited On: Aug 9, 2009


The Forbes Ridge (in French Arête Forbes) is one of the most classical alpine climb of its kind. It is a continous, beautiful climb, not too difficult but sustained in its difficulty.
This post is based on a climb (July 2009) that suggested a rating higher than AD. However in various climbing guides, including the masterpiece of Gaston Rebuffat "The best 100 climbs in the Mont Blanc massif" it is graded AD, therefore the choice to keep this rating has been made.
Nevetheless consider that this is a committing climb to be started in good weather.

Getting There

The starting point of the climb is the Albert Ier hut (2,702m). The hut is about two hours walk from the upper stop of the Montets cable-car. Alternatively you can walk all the way up from the vally; this will take you about 4 hours.

Route Description

Approach: 1 hour and 30 minutes
From the hut follow the track leading to the Col du Tour and when just under the saddle take the direction to the Aiguille du Chardonnet (you will pass at proximity of a rocky notch located at 3,238m). 1hours and 30 minutes

Getting to the ridge: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Climb toward the Aiguille Forbes following a runnel facing NW on the right. Be careful to the crevasses and to the seracs on the left side of the runnel. At the end of the runnel climb La Bosse, a glaciated bump with a gradient of about 50°. Once the bump climbed gain the ridge.
La Bosse

Climbing the ridge: 5 hours
Start the climb of the ridge from the distinctive spike at 3,703m. The itinerary follow the ridge. The main difficulties are solved avoiding them, mainly from the North side, the South side being often rotten. The most difficult climbing moves (IV) are equipped with pitons or slings. The crux of the climb is about fifty meters from the top and if the route is not iced can be solved walking on the snow on the North side of the ridge. If this is not possible you will have to climb about ten meters of face (V-). A piton and some slings are there but you will still have to jam your arms in a crack to overcome the difficulty.
On the summit of Aiguille de Chardonnet

Descent: 3 hours
From the summit descend a narrow ridge in the West direction. After a few meters gain a rocky saddle. On the right there is a beautiful and large snow runner with a gradient of 40-45°. DO NOT TAKE THE COULOIR ON THE LEFT, this is exposed, steep and overhand the Argentière glacier.
Descend diagonally on the right the runnel in the direction of the Bassin du Tour and gain a rocky/snowy saddle.
From the saddle descend a few meters a steep rocky part and then rappel (anchors and slings in situ) several times untill you reach the Glacier du Tour. Negociate the berschrund and then head to the Albert Ier hut, possibly joining the foot of the Col du Passon where the crevasses are fewer.
Rappelling down

The climb has to start early (the latest 3am) because it is East exposed. The descent is exposed to rockfall.

Essential Gear

Standard glacier equipment (harness, rope, ice-axe). A second ice-axe can be useful to descend more safely the snow runnel and to climb La Bosse if it is on ice.
Several slings for the ridge and some friends (sizes 1-3) or stoppers (sizes 5-7).

External Links

A fairly detailed description of the route (in french) is available via this link: