Reaching Heaven in the Swiss Alps

Aiguille Blanche Routes
By Richard Goedeke

By bus or car along the Val Venlas as far as Cantine de la Visaille (1653m). Cross the main stream to the Chalets de Freney. From there, take the marked track over a gigantic scree fan and then, keeping left (west) of the stream descending from the Freney Glacier, climb the rugged face with many bends. Finally, take the climbing path with fixed wires up three tiers of slabs to the saddle by the Aiguille du Chatelet and the Monzino Hut (2561m, Guides de Courmayeur, 60 beds, managed from mid-June to the end of September, tel. 0165-809553).

Bivouac Approach

From the hut go northeast under the walls of the Aiguille Croux, and ascend over debris and snow into the cirque in front of the Punta Innominata. From the snow of this cirque go right (east) over rocks and up a gully to the Col de l'lnnominata (3205m, two to three hours from the hut). On the other side, abseil (rappel) down a steep gully and then descend to the Freney Glacier. Take an adventurous route through the crevasse labyrinth to reach and climb the snow couloir descending from the Breche Nord. If the bergschrund is impassable, or there is acute danger of stone-fall, the Schneider Couloir, running parallel to the main couloir but well to the left, below the Punta Gugliermina, is less dangerous. Higher up take the left (north) branch, to the notch (3470m, obliquely left above is the Craveri or Dames Anglaises Bivouac Hut, 3490m.

To the Summit, Via Peuterey Ridge

Above the notch, a steep rise bars the way ahead. Go left (west) and climb up and down on the wall of the rise, climb a short chimney and then, on shelves and ledges, cross some 40m (III and II) to a slabby, gully-like couloir. Climb the couloir (III) to the notch on an adjacent ridge, right of a thin pinnacle. On the right go up a sort of gully (III) for 10m to easy ground above the first steep rise. Go up the ridge for a short way, then traverse right (Brenva side) over debris and snow to rubble ribs which are separated from one another by snow gullies. The third rib is the best; climb this directly, high above the crisscrossed Brenva Glacier, with occasional crumbling rock, until it ends at a notch on the main ridge (about 100m to the side and somewhat above the Punta Gugliermina). Ascend the ridge, then descend on the right to a prominent notch in front of a tower. Turn this airily on the left (IV). After that, go up to the ridge again and on this, finally, ascend on a broad snow ridge to the southeast top (4107m, Pointe Seymour King).

On the other side, go down a short brittle gully to the narrow snow ridge. Traverse across on its knife-edge (very exposed) to the central summit (4112m, Pointe Gussfeldt) and continue to the Northwest Summit (4104m, Pointe Jones). These two summits are often turned — the Central on the Brenva side, and the Northwest on the Freney side — which can involve climbing on very hard ice.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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