Page Type
Haute-Savoie, France, Europe
Route Type:
Ice Climbing, Mixed
Spring, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
II, 5 - 500 m, ice up to 90°

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Created On: May 5, 2009
Last Edited On: Sep 11, 2012


Geographical Classification: Alps Western Part > Mont Blanc Group > Aiguille Carrée > Frendo-Ravanel

This excellent, varied and technical gully is a well known route in the Mont Blanc Group. It is located on the Aiguille Carrée (3716 m / 12192 ft) , which has no page on Summitpost, because it isn't very prominent. The Aiguille Carrée lies on the Grands Montets ridge of the famous Aiguille Verte. The route starts at the glacier des Rognons and ends at a notch between the Pointe Farrar and the Carrée.

The route it really popular for a few reasons. First of all it has a very rapid and short acces, of course only if you take the Grand Montets cable car. Especially if you use skies, which is recommended, the approach only takes a few minutes. It also allows you to enjoy a long freeride descent of nearly 2500 meters to Argentière. Besides the short acces the gully is varied and technical, which makes the climbing really enjoyable. It is also equipped with pegs and placing protection is rather easy. If you climb all the way to the notch you'll have a breath-taking view of the Drus and the Sans Nom.

First ascent: Sylvain Frendo and Marc Ravanel, 17th January 1993.
Frendo-Ravanel gullyRavanel-Frendo gully

Getting There

To Argentière: You can reach Argentière by train from Martigny (Switzerland) or Annecy (France), TGV to St. Gervais. By bus from Annecy, Geneva, Grenoble, Courmayeur, Aoste or Turin. Or by car from Geneva via St. Gervais and from there on the N205 pass Chamonix to Argentière. From Martigny (Switzerland) via Vallorcine and the Col des Montets, N506.

To the route: Take the Grands Montets cable car all the way up. Start at the Col des Grands Montets and descent the steepest part of the ski-run. Turn right and traverse on the glacier des Rognons below the Grand Montets ridge. Look carefull to take the right gully, not very hard to find. Very rapid approach, about 15 - 30 minutes.

For time tables and prices of the cable car: Grands Montets cable car.

For more information to get to Argentière, see the Mont Blanc Group page.

Route Description

Frendo-Ravanel (II 5 - 500 m)
Frendo-Ravanel gullyRavanel-Frendo gully

Start at the glacier des Rognons and gear up. Cross the bergschrund, and climb a 50 degrees snow slope for about 100m. Continue via two short ice walls (65 degrees). The following pitch runs through a magnificent 60 degrees gully. A snow pitch leads to a small cirque which leads to two gullies, which are steep for 10 meters (80 degrees). If dry: go left and climb a few chimney-gullies that are blocked by an overhang (5a, pretty hard to get over). Then traverse right (delicate) for about 6 meters to reach the main gully again. The crux section has a directroute and a left-hand variant. The direct route follows a 15 meter gully (75 degrees), belay on the right side. Traverse left and climb a sustained gully for 15 meters (85 degrees). Move back left and exit via a relatively baren gully (90 degrees). The Left-hand variant is more mixed. Climb thin ice for two pitches, or climb the mixed ground more left. Two pitches (70 / 80 degrees).End of difficulties. Finally you can climb the 250 meters snow slope (about 50 degrees) to reach the notch.

Descent: abseil down the route, recommended! Or on foot via the band of snow on the right bank of the line of ascent, and then the lower part of the N Couloir of the Aiguille Carrée.

An excellent guidebook is Snow, Mixed and Ice Volume 1 by Francios Damilano. To order:

Essential Gear

Two Ice Tools, Double 50 or 60 meter Ropes (a 60 meter rope is recommended for the descent), a few Ice Screws (depending on conditions and climbing skills), Crampons, Helmet, Warm Clothes (sun leaves the face in the afternoon) and Skies or snowshoes for the approach/descent are recommended.

External Links - The Walking and Mountaineering Office of Chamonix - Chamonix valley and Mont Blanc area weather forecast - Chamonix Webcams - Snow and avalanches report - Lift/cable car information - Movie of the climb on TV Mountain


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