The Arete des Papillons (Butterflies ridge) is the most frequented route in the Aiguilles de Chamonix.
This is due to its vicinity to the arrival station of the cable car to Plan des Aiguilles, to the fast approach and because it can be climbed even when weather is not good or there is snow in the high part of the mountains.
Can be climbed in one day both from Chamonix or Courmayeur (using the M.Blanc tunnel)
This ridge doesn't lead to the summit of the Aiguille du Peigne but ends at a minor summit (3009m) wherefrom a good team can :
- come back to the cableway in less than 2 hours (bad weather or crowd)
- follow to the Aiguille du Peigne with an amusing and less difficult climb.
The difference in elevation of the rock climbing part is about 250m
Climbing style is typical "Chamoniard" with hand and foot jam.
The edge is oriented SW
From Plan des Aiguilles (Cable car)
follow toward left a path and a series of grassy slopes.
Follow on debris to the small snowfield to the starting point of the ridge : a shelf under the first tower.
It takes less than one hour
|From the shelf follow a dihedral on the right side to get a double crack, then follow to the ridge.
Cross a dip to catch a crack to the left that leads to the summit of the first tower. (1 pass V)
|Follow the ridge climbing on the left side to get the second tower (easier III-IV)
|Start to climb the 3rd tower along a wide crack to the left, you arrive to a very narrow (10-15cm) ledge wherefrom you have to climb along a long slab using the cracks on the right (the big slab looks like leaning on the ledge). Now you get another dip.
On along a crack to arrive to a "boite aux lettres" (a kind of corridor between the rocks), now to the right along a wall leading to an overhang (V), exit to the right (strong - V) and following some chips get the summit of the 3rd tower.
Slightly down to cross a channel then along a slab with a small crack (V) on the left side get the 4th tower.
Now, along some steep ledges on the right side you can get the normal route and come down (1 rappel) to the small glacier.
Classic for rock climbing, some nuts may be useful