Royal Traverse- Aiguille du Bionnassay, Dôme du Goûter and Mont Blanc

Aiguille du Midi

Chamonix

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains

Skyway Monte Bianco

The most amazing traverse of several 4000m peaks including the iconic Aiguille du Bionnassay and Mont Blanc

Also in Haute-Savoie, France

Alpine Climbing Difficult

Distance
13 km
Ascent
2.1 km
Descent
1.7 km
Low Point
3.4 km
High Point
4.8 km
Gradient
30˚
Royal Traverse- Aiguille du Bionnassay, Dôme du Goûter and Mont Blanc Map

Be sure you are confident of conditions as this traverse has a reputation for cornices and avalanche danger. A high level of fitness and acclimatisation are essential as well as a perfect forecast. The route begins pretty much from the door of the Durier Hut, following snow slopes to the side of the ridge itself.

Description

Later in the season many sections of this S facing ridge will be rocky, good in parts, less in others. Take the line of least resistance of the ridge until an unavoidable rocky/mixed section at about 3800m. Here in dry conditions the easiest line is a rocky chimney to the R of the ridge itself, by a few short pitches. Above it is more snowy/icy and you stick close to the crest on one side or the other, taking care to give potential cornices a wide berth.

From the summit of the Bionnassay you descend the very exposed ridge to the Col de Bionnassay at 3888m. Now climb up to the Piton des Italiens at 4002m, where you meet the Pope Route, the normal route up Mont Blanc from the Italian side. Above here there is another very exposed section, but it is short lived, leading to the Dôme du Goûter at 4304m. In the event of bad weather or lack of fitness/acclimatisation there is the option to descend the normal route of Mont Blanc to the Goûter Hut. Described here is the continuation over Mont Blanc.

Continue up icy slopes to the Vallot Refuge, where a brief bit of shelter can be sought. The well travelled Arête des Bosses lies above, mostly steady with slightly more exposed sections occasionally, but nothing compared to the Bionnassay. You have really earned your prize of the highest point in Europe, by one of the most aesthetic lines.

Descending to Col Brenva is straightforward, then follows a slightly exposed traverse to the shoulder of Mont Maudit. The next 80-100m from the shoulder of Mont Maudit is steep and may see you facing in or potentially rappeling if conditions are icy. There is a rock island halfway down with intermediate anchors.

At time of writing (June 2019) the NE slope of Mont Maudit below the steep step is very serac threatened and you are advised to seek local knowledge about the best way to negotiate it from above. Once down to the flat area beneath Mont Maudit there follows a gentle reascent to the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul, then a steep meandering descent of this normal route, usually following a major track. All that remains is the final gruelling climb to the Aiguille du Midi. Well done on completing a massive and committing day you will never forget.

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+

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

The majority of the route is "no fall" terrain.

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, August

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area