Climbing guidebook at Aiguille du Midi
For climbers, the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi is, along with the Grand Capucin and Les Drus, the most renowned wall in the Mont Blanc massif. The Rébuffat-Baquet route is the immense classic of the face, but numerous other more recent and often more demanding routes provide the opportunity to come and climb at the Aiguille.
In total, around twenty routes have been established on this exceptional granite. You will find these routes in the climbing guidebooks by Michel Piola: Aiguille du Midi – La Dame du Lac and Aiguille du Midi, Rébuffat sector.
Michel Piola needs no introduction, as he is one of the most prolific route setters and equippers in the Mont Blanc massif. He is also the author of guidebooks for the Envers des Aiguilles and the Aiguilles Rouges.
His climbing guides are now considered reference works, praised for their precision. In his FICHES GRANITE (folder), Michel Piola focuses on a few particularly interesting walls for climbers and further enhances the level of information with extremely detailed diagrams, listing the in-situ gear and the gear to bring for each route.
These diagrams are particularly valuable for this face where numerous routes intersect. Michel has a profound knowledge of this iconic wall, having climbed each of its routes (and opened several of them). He has also returned multiple times to rebolt (sometimes partially) most of them.
The two folders covering Aiguille du Midi are available on the OmegaRoc app.
Climbing on the South Face of Aiguille du Midi
The South Face of Aiguille du Midi is a magnificent mineral face that offers, over a little more than 200m, all aspects of climbing on granite: perfect cracks, flawless dihedrals, slabs for balance, and a few overhangs. In short, it’s a type of climbing where technique and physicality often complement each other. You can always climb a beautiful hand crack using a laidback technique, but it is much more tiring (especially at 3600m) and challenging to protect.
Regarding the equipment, the crack lines are generally not bolted and need trad protection. You may find a few pitons, and rarely a “safety” bolt. The slab sections are equipped with bolts, with varying spacing depending on the preferences of the route setter.
The twenty or so routes that intersect on the South Face offer numerous possible combinations, some of which have become great classics:
The Mazeaud/Rébuffat/Desmaison route for a technical and physical climb.
The Directe des trois dièdres combines the dihedrals of the Mazeaud, Ma Dalton, and Desmaison r A thematic climb!
In terms of strategy, there are three approaches, each with its pros and cons:
– Most parties reach the foot of the rock face via the East Ridge and, arriving at the summit, reach the Rébuffat terrace and the infrastructure of the Aiguille with a 30m rappel. In this case, you need to climb with all the necessary glacier equipment for the approach. It is often the second climber who will suffer from the extra load.
– Another option is to prioritize climbing light by leaving at the foot of the route your mountaineering boots and crampons and rappelling down from the top. In this case, you need to ascend to the Aiguille via the East ridge. And in that direction, it takes more than 20 minutes…
– Finally, it is possible to approach by rappelling from thle summit, which can be reached in one pitch from the Rébuffat Terrace. However, in case of abandoning the route, it is essential to have the necessary glacier equipment to go back to the cable car via the ridge.
In short, three methods, three philosophies!
This beautiful rock full of promises is located just an hour away from the heart of Chamonix. Only thirty minutes by cable car to cover 2800 meters of elevation and reach the Aiguille, five minutes of slaloming through tourists to reach the East Ridge, and twenty minutes using crampons to descend to the foot of the wall. The panorama is breath-taking. You climb above the immense glacial plateau of the Vallée Blanche, bordered from east to west by La Verte, Les Grandes Jorasses, La Dent du Géant, La Tour Ronde, the seracs of Tacul, and overlooking “its troops”, the mighty Mont Blanc itself.
Attention: High mountain terrain
The contrast is striking when you arrive from the tunnel that leads to the East Ridge. Just thirty seconds ago, you were strolling in the “photographer’s lounge,” and suddenly you find yourself on the top of a sharp ridge, steep on the right and even steeper on the left. Crampons and roping up are essential!
A 20-minute descent where it’s better to focus on your feet rather than the landscape, and then you lay your hand on the most beautiful rock in the world…
Granite of your dreams, warm sun, a quick approach, and a few climbing parties in the vicinity (it’s rare to climb alone at the Aiguille) quickly make you forget that you are in the high mountains. The first challenging sections will quickly remind you that something is missing in the air you breathe. And if the shadow catches up to you, I hope you haven’t forgotten your down jacket.
The weather can also suddenly change, and temperatures can suddenly drop significantly. It is essential to check the forecast for the day.
Climbing at Aiguille du Midi is a pleasure for vigilant and experienced climbers.
It happened at Aiguille du Midi…
Two days at the Aiguille du Midi: The Lachenal route (Pte Lachenal) and the Contamine at Aiguille du Midi
Alex Chabot free climbs the famous roof of Ma Dalton Route. Fortunately it’s also possible to aid climb it!
The Rebuffat-Baquet route climbed by the authors!
Clip from the film Entre Terre et ciel (in French only).
The combination Midi sonne/Sortie Desmaison.
Crack climbing in all its diversity
Explore the crags a little bit further… but not too far.
Here are some digital guidebooks for climbing in the surroundings areas.
To see all the guidebooks available on the OmegaRoc app: The OmegaRoc guidebooks