/ Approach to Petit Charmoz
Does anyone have any current info on the approach to the Petit Charmoz traverse from the Plan cable car station. The guidebook suggests it’s prone to rockfall and, with current conditions, I was wondering if it is feasible.
Are crampons and aces required for the approach?
We did it on Saturday and it was a bit of a nightmare!
We didn't bother with axes and crampons but it might have made the approach easier as we could have gone up the glacier instead of fighting our way through the boulder field. Every single block moved and progress was slow, it probably added about an hour to our approach. My shins and ankles would have thanked me too.
We missed the first lift as I forgot to get tickets the day before so had to queue in the morning and didn't get to the Plan until 7.45am. There wasn't really much rockfall during the morning but it was clattering down fairly regularly in the afternoon. Most of it was coming down to the middle and left heading down, so we stuck to the right hand side and hurried. The route itself was good fun though!
There was a lot of rock fall a few weeks ago, I did both that route and bailed on the Cordiner pillar.
If you just cross low down on the Glacier and then head back up at the far side the rock fall that I observed wouldn't reach you, but I'd keep an eye out obviously. The first 2 pitches of the route are also very loose.
I wouldn't like to do it without Crampons as the snow patch was pretty hard in the morning.
Thanks for the info- one further question, how long did the route and descent take, not including the approach and walk out? Asking cos we’re there first week in Sept and the first lift is 8.10 and the last one down is 5.30 ish. I’d like to avoid the two he walk down if poss!
We took just over 4 hours by the time we'd waited for a team to clear the first pitch and bumbled along the ridge as a team of three, stopping for food, photos, route finding and general faff. The climbing wasn't that hard, the chimneys were just a bit awkward and polished and the crux was one tricky move.
I think the three abs took around half an hour or so, the path down from there was good though and the ladders were great. We walked back down to the valley which took about two and a half hours from the bottom of the ladders. Roughly a 10.5 hour day from the top of the lift at 8am (three hours to walk in thanks to the boulder field) and back to the house at 6.30pm.
Long time ago (1976 I think) but I climbed this with someone (name forgotten from the CUMC). Can't remember times as such but I know we caught the first train to Montenvers (7 am ?) and were back in Chamonix just as the supermarket was shutting for lunch (1pm?). We also lost some time, particularly on the descent, as we lost our handwritten description early in the day and there weren't any other climbers to follow.
Wow, I did the SW Pillar then the traverse of the PC in 2001 - which, yeah, is a long time ago now but doesn't seem that long ago! No rockfall, and after you stroll round from the Plan, a nice snowy mini glacier that took you quickly across to the bottom of the Petit Charmoz. We bivvied on a some rocks in the middle of the glacier from what I remember. Turned out it would have been much comfier to just cross the rest of it to the grassy meadows! Live and learn.
I'm sure then the glacier came down far enough to mean there was a bit of snow to cross to get to the start of the Couzy route on L'M which we did a bit later that trip. Is that still the case?
I just remembered, I wrote an article about the Petit Charmoz in Climb, I don't seem to have scanned all of it, but you can see the pics and read the start here https://66.media.tumblr.com/d0b05a0ee1c97878e12e64a9cb352a96/tumblr_mp5af3xfoZ1st48mso2_1280.jpg
I climbed the Couzy in 1976 (my first route in Chamonix) & can't remember any glacier on the approach although I think there was some snow, maybe a glacier, on the descent.
I did the route in the late 1980s as a first route warm-up acclimatisation, and I enjoyed it a lot (despite busting a crampon strap on the glacier approach). One memory that sticks is that having done the traverse and got to the top of the gully between the Petit Charmoz and the Aiguille de L'M, my partner and I looked at a French group picking their way rather gingerly down the scree slope, decided not to be so cautious and just scree-ran down to the ladder. Perhaps I wouldn't be quite so cavalier if I found myself there again (which I shan't, but even so).
Worth taking a camera, there are good view of the Chamonix Aiguilles from the route and a good view of the hill on the approach/descent. https://flic.kr/p/dkfjXr
We went down to the col between the M and Petit Charmoz, then down a snow gully to the ladders down on to the Nantillon glacier (the same descent as coming down from the Petit Charmoz summit block). So you might be right, that there wasn't snow below the route itself, but once you've done it and come down the back gully you end up on I guess what in the early noughties was the bottom of the glacier.
> the chimneys were just a bit awkward and polished and the crux was one tricky move.
Absolutely desperate is my memory (1976) - we were going up to bivvy at the col prior to (not) doing the NW ridge of the Grand Charmoz. We took so long that we ended up bivvying on the large jammed ledge halfway up. 4 of us. Pretty comfy.
Somewhat of a fiasco. Struggling on the chimneys did not bode well. Nor did our route finding the next day. Or our use of a rope...
Did it with my 17 year old son last week.
No crampons or axes needed though he used one walking pole for stability as he had never walked on snow before. Pretty dry glacier what’s left of it.
loads of rockfall but none on the low approach line we took. Lots of choss on the moraine approach then in the gully on descent. You wouldn’t want people scree running down the gully above you!
really pleasant day out and loads of time to get back to plan d’aiguille for the last lift. I think we were back in Cham by 2 having got the 5th cable car up. Ladders are great. Chimneys are gritstone hvd ( with a rucksack 😜)
we took one abseil down the nantillon side ( following a guide) then walked to the col, easy from there.
Hi... Can I ask why you bailed on the cordier?? How was it?
We got lost around the platform unfortunately, pitch 17 I think. A lot of buggering about on my part trying to follow the route description and not getting anywhere. Went up an alternative way (to the right) that we found on Google and then got to the base of pitch 20 (we think) but then it was too late and the weather was rolling in. We could have went for it I think, but were uncertain on exactly where we were.
Cracking route up though, the route finding was fine up until there.
I've heard there is quite a bit on confusion with some of the Topo's, Which one did you use? I was thinking of asking around as I have seen allot of comments on the Rockfax one being a little off route.. Hoping to try it in a few weeks so be good to not run into same problems in trying to find the right line.
Any route info or advice would be much appreciated..
All the best
We used the Rockfax one for the description (the topo is totally wrong) and the Mont Blanc Massif vol 2 .
It might be worth going and speaking with the tourism office to see if there is a more up to date one. There was a guide on the route that wasn't using either of these but I can't remember what they were using (they didn't get lost)
Thank you.. After chatting to few cham locals it seems the Damilano Mont Blanc granite vol 2 is the most accurate..
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