South East Pillar

Page Type
Wallis/Valais, Switzerland, Europe
Route Type:
Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Half a day
TD+, 6c (6a obl.)
Rock Difficulty:
5.11a (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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South East Pillar
Created On: Aug 24, 2011
Last Edited On: Sep 11, 2012


This number 63 of the Mont Blanc Massif hundred Finest Routes is a located on one of the most striking mountains in the Alps, the Petit Clocher du Portalet. The South East Pillar (also South East Ridge) is almost 250 meters high and offers a very nice climb. The granite is very solid and the climbing is very technical with a lot of cracks, slabs and dihedrals. The approach is easy but very exposed. A fast rope party can combine two routes on the Petit Clocher du Portalet.

The South East Pillar is classic climb which was opened in the sixties of the 20th century. Nowadays the route has been rebolted. The people who rebolted the route made sure that the route remained some of its classic character. So do not expect a boltladder. The belays have been replaced and some pitches have bolts at places where it is hard to place any gear.

First ascent: M. Rey and C. Vouilloz in 1961.

Getting There

To the Petit Clocher du Portalet: Start at the Orny hut or from La Breya (cable car station above Champex). Leave the marked path between La Breya and the Orny hut at point 2691 meters (on the SAC map). Head south below the glacier d'Orny and cross the moraines. Do not loose too much altitude and you will find red marks and a small path which leads to the north face of the Petit Clocher (fixed ropes). Traverse under the mountain on an exposed path and reach the bottom of the SE Pillar (again fixed ropes and very exposed!).

Approach times: 1 hour from the Orny hut or 2-3 hours from La Breya.

Route Description

The route is about 250 meters divided over 7 pitches (which can be reduced to 6 pitches). The start of the route is marked on the rocks. In the route description left or right means while climbing (looking up).

First pitch: 6b / 5.10c. Reach the first bolt (easy). Then head right to the edge of the face (bolts. Continue through a magnificent crack (pegs).
Second pitch: 6c / 5.11a (right hand variant). Take the most direct line which starts on the right side. This demanding crack requires a good technique (two bolts).
Third pitch: 6b+ / 5.10d. A long but beautiful pitch that follows the obvious dihedral. The crux has some well placed bolts. The belay is just above a short overhang.
Fourth pitch: 6a+ / 5.10b. A nice slab which is well secured with bolts. Do not traverse too early to the left.
Fifth pitch: 4c / 5.6. A short and easy climb to reach the crest.
Sixt pitch: 6a / 5.10a. A nice crack and a tricky slab at the end of the pitch. This pitch can be combined with the previous one.
Seventh pitch: 5b / 5.8. A classic pitch with a chimney/dihedral.

Descent: Rappel down the route Le Chic, le chèque et le choc which is just right of the SE pillar (when looking down from the summit). The belays on this routes have been replaced and this way it has become the best (and fastest) descent. Rappel 5 times to reach the base of the south face. You will end up just a few meters from your starting point.

Essential Gear, Maps and Guidebooks

Essential Gear: rock climbing gear. Take at least a 50 meter rope (double or twin for the descent), 10 quickdrawns, a small set of cams and a few nuts. You can take as much as you want to the base of the climb because you can leave your stuff there.

1. SAC Map 1345 Orsières, 1:25000.
2. IGN 3630 OT Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc, 1:25000.
3. SAC Map 282 Martigny, 1:50000.

1. Entremont Escalades - Olivier Roduit - 2011
2. Guide du Valais Du Trient au Nufenen (SAC) - Hermann Biner - 1996
3. Le massif du Mont-Blanc - Les 100 plus belles courses - Gaston Rébuffat - 1973
4. Topoguide Kletterführer Alpen, Band II - Nicole Luzar & Volker Roth - 2010

External Links

Orny Hut 2826 m
Patricia & Raymond Angéloz
CH – 1991 Salins
Phone: +41 27 207 13 48 / +41 79 221 15 17
infos (at)

Other useful links:

WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF - Avalance Bulletin
Weather Forecast - Detailed weather forecast by Meteoschweiz
Railroad information - Railroad schedule
Bus information - Postbus schedule
Champex - Tourist Office Champex

South East Pillar

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