Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 45.85730°N / 6.88760°E
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5c, A1/M6, 90 degrees
Sign the Climber's Log


A stunning couloir leading straight to the summit of Mont Blanc du Tacul, running up beside the classic Gervasutti Pillar. The couloir was first climbed by Jean-Marc Boivin and Patrick Gabarrou in the spring of 1975.
Damilano's recent exhaustive update of the super-classic Neige Glace et Mixte contains all you'll need to know for a good time on this route. The rest will depend on conditions - check the OHM office in Chamonix.

Getting There

If planning to spend some time in this area, it might be worthwhile to basecamp (technically illegal) somewhere in the upper Valle Blanche. This seems to be most feasible in winter/spring when the law is not so often enforced. There are 2 common approaches as mentioned elsewhere: cable car from Courmayeur to the Torino hut, or telepherique from Chamonix to the Cosmiques hut. This is a popular route, so an early start is a good idea. It is also possible (and cheaper) to ski up the day before from Montenvers via the Mer de Glace and the upper Valle Blanche.

Route Description

There are 2 common starts. The original goes straight up the broken rock below the gully in 2 mixed pitches (M6). If this start is dripping water or looks otherwise uninviting, a very popular variation is to climb the first 2 pitches of the Gervasutti Pillar to an easy snow ramp that can be followed to the ice. The Gervasutti start offers some really nice granite climbing that may tempt you to abandon the ice gully for a climb of the Pillar!
starting up the Gervasutti Pillar

The conditions in the gully itself may vary from fat ice to a thin veneer over gravel, depending on the year and season. The gully itself is about 400m of rambling ice at 70 degrees, interspersed with steeper sections up to vertical. Many sections may be thin or even mixed, depending on the year and season.
first pitch up the main gully
fun climbing in the Supercouloir
Typical Chamonix fixed rat's-nest-style belays abound along the steep walls of the gully. The first pitch and the last pitch are the steepest and most challenging, with the crux being the final ice step.
rappeling the upper crux ice pitch
Belay on the left. It is common to rappel from here (60m ropes).

The original and complete ascent continues up the snow slopes above, aiming for the notch behind the Tour Rouge.
upper snow slopes above the ice pitches
view out of the Tour Ronde and Petite Capucin from the Tour Rouge notch
At the notch, as you would for the Gervasutti Pillar, go around the right side and follow easy mixed ground to snow and the summit.

Descent: walk down the standard route or rappel the couloir from fixed stations (2006) to retrieve your skis. Hurry to catch the last train from Montenvers!!
Vive la France!

Essential Gear

ice gear
rock gear
2 x 60m ropes if planning to rappel
skis to shorten the approach/and especially the descent time substantially
money for cable cars and trains and wine etc. in the huts


Damilano, Snow Ice and Mixed Vol.2, 2006



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