Le Marchand de Sable

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 45.90428°N / 6.92576°E
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10b (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: TD sup., F 6a+
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 11
Sign the Climber's Log



Le Marchand de Sable


Tour Rouge is a fine spire of red protogyn granite rising ahead the solid bulk of Grepon and situated on the French side of Mont Blanc, in the Envers des Aiguilles group, meaning "the back of Aiguilles". This chain is the South-East side of the Aiguilles de Chamonix and it's hidden from the town. Envers des Aiguilles is a paradise for climbing, a wonderful setting designed by Grandes Jorasses, Drus, Aiguille Verte. Tour Rouge superb walls had been discovered at the beginning of the Eighties.  Le Marchand de Sable is a magnificent route – the classic one on the South East face of the spire – which offers various climbing styles (corners, slabs and cracks). 

Mer de Glace and Grandes Jorasses in the background
Mer de Glace and Grandes Jorasses in the background
Technical slab on Le Marchand du Sable, Tour Rouge
Technical slab on Le Marchand du Sable



Homogeneous and sustained, it's surely a brilliant climb with some great pitches. Definitely one of the most deserving routes in the area. Partially equipped (belays and some points along the route). The route is getting the sun at eight o’clock in full summer.




Getting There

Envers des Aiguilles map

From Chamonix Mont Blancby rack-railway to Montenvers m. 1909. Descend to gain the Mer de Glace and rise along the glacier in the direction of the well visible face of Grandes Jorasses, reaching the first large ice-terrace on the glacier. Near a big yellow arrow painted on a rock on the glacier left orographical side starts the path to the Refuge Envers des Aiguilles. The shelter is situated in a panoramic position on the last promontory of Aiguille de Roc (2,30 hours from Montenvers).


Mer de Glace (Mont Blanc group)
Mer de Glace seen from the approach



From the Refuge Envers des Aiguilles 2523 m take the iron stairways and rise to the right along a gully leading to a notch behind the hut. From here go down to gain the Trelaporte Glacier. Cross the glacier in its upper section near the walls - to avoid the crevassed area below - and reach the lower point of the SE face of Tour Rouge. The starting point is below a steep slab situated between a corners’system on the left-hand side and two small roofs on the right. In last years the start had became very difficult, because of the glacier's retreat.

Le Marchand de Sable report

Le Marchand de Sable report (French Scale)

Summit altitude: 2899
Difficulty: TD sup., F6a+
Equipment: partially equipped with bolts (slabs); friends are useful for the cracks
Climbing length: 300 m
Exposure: SE
First ascent: M. Piola – G. Hopfgartner 19-20/07/1983
Starting point: Montenvers 1909 m (Rack-railway from Chamonix Mont Blanc)
Hut: Envers des Aiguilles m. 2523 CAF

The great "classic" of the Tour Rouge!

Getting Envers des Aiguilles Hut
Getting the Hut










Route report

L1 – Start to climb a steep slab, then up a flake. 6a
L2 - Head towards right below a small roof, then climb up along a corner. 5c
L3 - Climb another fine corner on the left and belay inside it. 5c
L4 – Straight up climbing a slab. 5b

Le Marchand de Sable
Le Marchand de Sable
Cracks on Le Marchand du Sable, Tour Rouge
Cracks on Le Marchand du Sable
















L5 - An unforgettable pitch! Climb a corner, then go towards left to reach a steep crack. Climb the crack with superb climb. 6a
L6 - Another unforgettable pitch. A technical crack, then cross the slab towards left. After an hard move along the slab, reach a small overhang, then a corner leading to a belay below a small roof. 6a+
L7 – Another slab, then a new corner leading to a good stance on a terrace. 5c
L8 – Straight up climbing a flake, then up along some easier corners. 5b
L9 – An easy pitch along a corner leading to a small rocky saddle. 4b

Le Marchand de Sable, Tour Rouge (Mont Blanc Group)
Le Marchand de Sable
Hanging belay, Le Marchand du Sable (Tour Rouge)
Hanging belay










L10 – Another superb pitch beginning with a technical slab; climb the slab with an hard movement (some bolts), then head towards right reaching a corner. 6a+
L11 – An easy pitch along a corner and a ridge leading to the top.4b

Descent: abseiling along the route (9 abseils)

Essential Gear and Climbing Grades

Rope 2 x 50, helmet, various sizes of friends and excentrics, ten express, ice-axe and crampons needed for the approach along the glacier.

Climbing Grades:

Rock Climbing Rating Systems
1 5.2 I 6b 5.10c VII- 7c+ 5.12d IX
2 5.3 II 6b+ 5.10d VII 8a 5.13a/5.13b IX+/X-
3 5.4 III 6c 5.11a VII+ 8a+ 5.13c X-
4 5.5 IV 6c+ 5.11b VII+/VIII- 8b 5.13d X
5a 5.6 V- 7a 5.11c VIII- 8b+ 5.14a X+
5b 5.7 V/V+ 7a+ 5.11d VIII 8c 5.14b X+/XI-
5c 5.8 VI- 7b 5.12a VIII+ 8c+ 5.14c XI-
6a 5.9 VI/VI+ 7b+ 5.12b VIII+/IX- 9a 5.14d XI
6a+ 5.10a/5.10b VI+/VII- 7c 5.12c IX- 9a+ 5.15a XI+



Refuge Envers des Aiguilles, Mont Blanc Group

Refuge Envers des Aiguilles m 2523

Refuge Envers des Aiguilles m 2523
Owner: C.A.F. (French Alpine Club)
Situation: French side of Mont Blanc Group - Back of Aiguilles de Chamonix
Open: from June 13th to September 13th
Size: 57 persons Winter-shelter: 12 persons
Guardian: Giusto Evelyne
Refuge's phone: 

Red Tape

Flying over Mont Blanc massif
Flying over Mont Blanc massif

There are not particulary restrictions in climbing and hiking.

When to climb

Best season goes from middle June to middle September.


Chamonix Meteo

Guidebooks and maps


Guidebook Envers des Aiguilles - Michel Piola
Guidebook Ascensions au pays du Mont Blanc
Guidebook Mont Blanc Les Plus belles courses
Mont Blanc & the Aiguilles Rouges selected climbs guidebook
Guidebook Le topo du massif du Mont Blanc


"Envers des Aiguilles" - Michel Piola, 2006 - in English text throughout
"Ascensions au pays du Mont Blanc" - Jean-Louis Laroche, Florence Lelong, 2000


"Mont Blanc les plus belles courses- rocher, neige, glace et mixte" - Philippe Batoux, 2012
"Mont Blanc & the Aiguilles Rouges" - selected climbs - in English
"Le topo du Massif du Mont Blanc" by Michel Piola  Maps - IGN 3531ET St-Gervais les Bains - Massif du Mont Blanc - IGN 3630OT Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc



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