III, 400m, 4 - 5 hours. A brilliant climb which sees far more ascents than the Integrale and was included as one of Gaston Rébuffat's 100 Finest Routes book. It shares its difficult sections with the Integrale but reaches it by moderate climbing up the face.Approach - From the Refuge du Couvercle, follow the high-level path back to the Montenvers train for 50m and then cut right up to the foot of the tiny glacier/snow patch at the foot of the south face. This takes 20 minutes from the hut.1) Cross the bergschrund and climb up 50m of glacier-polished slabs and runnels to reach a long ledge system leading out left. Follow this across the foot of the face to where it steepens into a wide chimney with a boulder blocking it.2) 4b. Climb the chimney (4b, awkward) to access another ledge system, this time leading up and right. Follow this for 50m and then climb a wide gully on the left (4a maximum) for 100m to hit the south ridge itself and junction with South Ridge Integrale.3) Drop onto the far side of the ridge and climb up an easy broken gully for 50m before moving left onto the ridge crest and going along this for 25m. Cut left across a ledge system for 20m to the foot of a 70m chimney system, below and left of a boulder which is somehow perched on top of a pinnacle on the ridge. 4) 4c. Climb the chimney (4b) for one pitch onto a large ledge. Traverse right for 5m and climb a second chimney (4c), which is steep but easier than it looks, to a belay 10m below the ridgeline, beneath harder-looking climbing.5) 5c. The steep ground leading to the notch is thrutchy and tough with a pack on (5c). Bring up your second and descend for 3m onto the right-hand side of the ridge before traversing for 10m to a left-leaning corner. Climb this (3c) to reach a large ledge on the ridge crest.6) 5b. Drop off onto the left of the ridge and traverse for 30m before making a long step down over a gap to the foot of a corner with a couple of wooden wedges and slings in it. Climb this (5b, strenuous) and a narrow 4c chimney above to a good ledge. 7) 4c. Downclimb the ridge for a couple of metres then climb a wide crack, past a couple of chockstones, to another large ledge. Climb a crack up and left to a notch, then head up the crack (which also has a large chockstone, 4c) to yet another terrace.8) 5c. A final short chimney leads to a short, steep wall. Head up this (5c) and follow the ridge more easily for 50m to the summit.Descent - Descend the south face. Most of the descent is exposed downclimbing and requires concentration. It is possible to abseil virtually all of the technical sections using fixed anchors (some of which might require backing up). The ability to keep up a good pace while downclimbing safely and making the transition between abseiling, soloing and moving together on the way down is the key to getting off the peak efficiently. All of the abseils are shorter than 25m so a single 50m rope is sufficient for any of these routes. © Rockfax
UKC Logbook Description
At the foot of the south face where two routes start you can see a prominant couloir leading up the face. Start climbing up this normally snow free couloir and immediately turn left across a system of ledges for 200m. Over these ledges protection can be found from the odd bolt and from putting slings over pillars of rock. It is possible to move together here.
Where the ledges end ascend up and to the right up easy ground before turning left again to reach the ridge below a large gendarme which looks like a double headed hammer. It may be necessary to pitch the last move onto the ridge. On the ridge continue up and then alond a ledge on the south west face to a diedre. Climb a crack on the back (IV, 4m) and then a chimney above (III). Further up the wall is a vertical wall (V+, 3m) which can be bypassed by a very exposed crack on the left ((IV). It may be necessary to aid climb this wall. Rocky ridge leads then to the summit. 4 and a half hr from hut.
Bruhl, Valluet, Ravanel and Belin 02/Sep/1928.