Pictures and topos from Grandes Jorasses, Courtes, Droites..


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Mountain climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 18, 2006 - 04:01am PT
Some pictures and topos from Grandes Jorasses, Courtes, Droites in the from Mont-Blanc


right here, right now
Oct 18, 2006 - 10:51am PT
Merci Beaucoup!
'Nice to have some stimulating vistas on the front page.
(Je ne pas parles Francais)...

Mountain climber
Paris. France
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 18, 2006 - 11:27am PT
thanks !!

Trad climber
Oct 18, 2006 - 11:28am PT
Chamonix is RAD! Sweet photos! Can't wait to go. Anyone know the best time to find good alpine conditions given the recent warming in the Alps?

Oct 18, 2006 - 01:10pm PT
Best alpine conditions?

Hate to be vague, but it depends. You're best bet is end of May through mid-july to have good snow conditions for all the alpine stuff (strong snow bridges, arêtes with snow and little ice) but with relative dry rock. This last winter was a big winter and the skiing was great through mid june...then the heat wave hit and many routes melted out within two to three weeks. From July 10 I'd say until early August lots of routes were in poor condition. Along came August where I was leg deep in fresh snow on the 15th at 2800meters and on the 26th I woke up to 15cm of snow at 2700 meters. Lots of routes in August and September were once again in fantastic condition (Bionnassay from Durier for example). However, with the heat wave of 2003 end of July and August are not as sure as they used to be.

If you're okay with doing alpine rock, when the snow/ice routes are no longer in season there's plenty of classics to climb.

If you need to book stuff far in advance, come in late spring early summer.

Does that help at all or was it clear as mud?

Ice climber
finally, west of the Mississippi
Oct 18, 2006 - 01:30pm PT
Hi, thanks so much for your info, MiYa and Degaine.
I'd like to re-ask TravelinLight's question but specify for ice/mixed routes... I have heard that Feb or so has been the best time in the past few years, but would be grateful to hear opinions and info on that.

Also, have you any special tips on how to manage such a trip inexpensively, ie, discount accomodations? I expect there is hosteling but am curious about finding other ideas too, for climbers. I appreciate any information, as climbing ice classics around Chamonix has been a dream of mine for years. But I figured it would be one of the more expensive destinations, and also have heard troubling things about conditions. A voice from the area or with knowledge of recent years is extremely appreciated!

Thank you thank you thank you for the thread and input.

Trad climber
Oct 18, 2006 - 03:21pm PT
Hey thanks for the feedback. To clarify, my objectives where primarily to start with the classic alpine mixed routes. Things like Grandes Jorasses, Aguille de Midi, etc. I was also planning to have some alpine rock routes in mind as well in case the mixed routes are dried out bowling alleys.

Oct 18, 2006 - 04:35pm PT
Hi Cybele and TL,

Well, it's hard to have it both ways, either you prefer ice, so you'd need to be here December through the end of February, or it's mixed (snow/rock) which is definitely the May/June period if there's a good freeze thaw. If you're talking mixed as in ice/dry-tooling, then it's the winter months I mentioned.

Winter here is pretty cold when compared to California, and it's a continental climate - not many winter ascents of major alpine routes are done as far as I know. I think JC Lafaille did a few winter ascents of les Drus and PBerhault climbed all over the Mont Blanc massif during the winter, but for a tourist mountaineer such as myself, the high alpine climbing/mountaineering is done in the late spring/summer unless I can ski up/down it (there's a lot of that in Chamonix as well!).

As far as cheap accomodations go, I'm pretty sure there's one or two campgrounds in the Chamonix valley. Just be aware that it's not like the state/nat'l forest campgrounds we're used to. Should run you around 10-12 euros a night if memory serves. You can try a "gite d'etape" as well, which is basically a lodge/dorm situation, and relatively cheap, probably no more than 15 euros a night to stay, double that if you want half-penion (breakfast and dinner):

Here's a link for les Houches (southwestern end of valley):

Anyway, no real need for a car because the bus system in Chamonix works well as does hitchhiking.

The Grandes Jorasses is a serious endeavor anyway you look at it even the normal route (I have not done it) which I believe is accessed from the Italian side. Of course, I have no idea what experience either of you have so the north face might be a walk up for you.

Here's a good website for relatively up to date information on conditions:

It's a French site but you can choose to read it in English. Never really verified how much of the new information is translated into English but it should provide basic recent info on route conditions. People keep it up to date pretty regularly.

While Chamonix and the Massif du Mont Blanc is not the only place in France with great mountaineering, if you've never been, it's a must. Nothing compares to it in the U.S., nothing.

Hope that helps.

P.S. Make sure you have lots of back up plans - whether it be cragging, bouldering, a nice run, a rock instead of snow route or whatever, the weather here is not terribly stable, and thunder storms occur regularly in the late afternoon throughout the summer. You could get a week of sunshine in August, or a week of crap where you see the summit of Mont Blanc once or twice in between clouds. I was shut down four times this summer due to weather. Here's are two links with weather/conditions in chamonix:

Trad climber
Oct 18, 2006 - 05:05pm PT
that is a HUGE help. thanks for all the info and links.

Mountain climber
Paris. France
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 19, 2006 - 07:14am PT
Merci Dégaine pour tes explications. Je ne suis pas fortiche en anglais !!
goatboy smellz

boulder county
Oct 19, 2006 - 07:38am PT
C'est bel et bien moi objectif beaucoup off piste randonnee, excuse moi franche.
Any photoz?

Oct 19, 2006 - 07:50am PT
Je t'en prie. Je ne connais pas tout sur tout, donc si tu vois qqch qui manque n'hésite pas à le signaler.

An Oil Field
Oct 19, 2006 - 09:24am PT
Back when everyone stayed for free in Snell's Field, the dirtbagging was far more wretched (and fun) than Camp Four. As far as I could tell, there were no rules at all, and you could tell what month it was by the ever decreasing distance between turds in the woods. People from all over the world, people who had half their fingers from climbing in the Himalaya. Crazy.

When I spent a summer there, the dollar was strong and you could live like a king for a few dollars a day. We all threw away our clothes on the way back to make room for all of the gear we bought. I remember flying home in a pair of Koflach's.

Alpine climbing is super dangerous compared to most straight rock climbing. When I was there people died like flies. A falling rock doesn't care how good you are.

Still, an amazing place.


Torino, Italy
Mar 3, 2007 - 07:04pm PT
Just in case anyone wants to learn more about the Grandes Jorasses, there's this page I've put on - it may contain something of interest for someone:


Gym climber
Roca Rojo
Mar 3, 2007 - 07:26pm PT
Amazing page Luca!

Thank you for sharing

right here, right now
Mar 3, 2007 - 07:51pm PT
Yes that is a very nice tribute to your friend and a super detailed account of the Grandes Jorasses. Nice work and thanks for posting.

Social climber
No Ut
Mar 3, 2007 - 08:54pm PT
Thanks, MiYa! What an amazing alpine playground that is.

And thanks, Luca, too, for that very informative and complete coverage on SummitPost. I love climbing on the North Face of the Jorasses. Absolutely the best n-wall ambience!

Torino, Italy
Mar 4, 2007 - 12:59pm PT
Thanks for all the nice words guys.

Message for all forum's user - please, if you've climbed the Grandes Jorasses (any route)take some minute to fill

the GJ climber's log here

The basic information will do, as I'm mostly interested in which route you climbed and when (as I'm keeping track of the mountain statistics - basically making comparing these informations with the huts guestbooks).
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Mar 4, 2007 - 09:48pm PT
Here is a picture apropos of the discussion early in this thread: Graham at Snell Field in 1976, showing one of the football goals. I remember it as being pretty idyllic compared to Camp 4. You could store food right in the tents, no bears or other varmints around.

The Grand Jorasses link is excellent. Bravo, Luca! Grazie.

Of local interest to Supertopians is the Gousseault (aka Desmaison) route, to the left of the Walker Spur:

1. “Gousseault” (Bertone/Claret/Desmaison, 1973, VI 6, 6a/5c, A1/2 or M5/M6, 90°, 1200m) Desmaison and Gousseault attempt to open this line in 1971 ended in a much publicised and still controversial tragedy (Gousseault died of exhaustion and Desmaison was saved literally in extremis). The seriousness of this route is in a class of its own. Repeated only six times, 38 pitches long, physically very demanding, still (probably) the hardest line reaching Pt. Walker from this side. The rock quality is uneven in places, but not worse than the rest of the face, and its reputation of being a bowling alley was clearly wrong. Requires at least three if not four bivouacs. With a recent lower variant, has become predominantly a mixed route that can be climbed without removing crampons. Francois Marsigny, who made the fifth ascent of this line in 2003, thinks it one of the best mixed routes of this class in the entire Alps, deserving classic status.

Tobin Sorenson and the Scot Gordon Smith made the second ascent of this route in 1977. Signorelli reports it has only been done 5 other times in the last 30 years! Also interesting to note that the description suggests modern climbers will need 3 to 4 bivouacs; Tobin reported that he and Smith did it with two. Not bad for a 21 year -old lad on his first trip to the Alps.
Tobin in the Alps that same summer of 1977.


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 20, 2009 - 04:19am PT
Thank you MiYa and Luca.

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