Les Droites, 4000m, S Ridge of E Summit

Arve Valley

Chamonix

A remote mountain, famed by the routes on its N Face, is a challenging climb from any side.

Alpine Climbing Difficult

Distance
7.2 km
Ascent
1.4 km
Descent
1.4 km
Low Point
2.6 km
High Point
3.9 km
Gradient
48˚
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Les Droites, 4000m, S Ridge of E Summit Map

Description

One of the great N Faces of the Western Alps leads to the summit of our mountain. The S side is much lower angled, but, with over 1200m of ascent from the hut on a remote route, it is not to be underestimated. It is very condition dependent, as the access couloir needs to be snow-filled. You should climb this route on a day that is not forecast to be too hot, in order to safeguard the descent.

From the Couvercle Hut leave very early and follow the well-worn track, as for the Aiguille Verte, to about 2900m. From here trend off to the R, taking the line of least resistance on glacial benches, right the way across the glacier, aiming for the obvious straight snowy couloir, which you should find in good frozen conditions. Carefully consider the conditions of the day - if it is not well frozen on the glacier and in the couloir the retreat is probably advised. Climb this to the top, with decent rock runners and belays if needed.

Follow the mixed crest above, generally avoiding rocky sections and towers on the R. Pass to the L of a final rock tower near the top, to arrive at the summit. You are likely to have the peak to yourselves as it does not have quite the cachet of the Aiguille Verte. It is, however, every bit as fine a summit, and has panoramic views of the Grandes Jorasses, the Argentiere basin and the Mont Blanc.

In descent, if it is a cool day, it is fine to reverse your line of ascent, with some rappels as needed in the couloir. A common alternative in descent, which can be also used in ascent, is to follow a SE facing couloir from the rock tower below the summit, by a series of rappels. These lead onto the 40 degree apron of snow that lies below the Col des Droites. Descend this then the easy slopes below the moraines and beneath the Jardin de Talefre.

This descent avoids crossing the entirety of the main snow-covered glacier when it is at its hottest.

Difficulty

Difficult

The beginning of truly technical terrain which might involve pitched climbing on rock and/or ice, exposed terrain and complex route finding in ascent and descent. Equivalent to AD, AD+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

June, July

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • 2 Ice Axes
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area