Tour Ronde North Face.

Aiguille du Midi

Chamonix

Skyway Monte Bianco

A megaclassic rite of passage for the budding N Face alpinist.

Also in Haute-Savoie, France

Alpine Climbing Severe

Distance
5.7 km
Ascent
655 m
Descent
655 m
Low Point
3.3 km
High Point
3.8 km
Gradient
39˚
VIEW ON MAP
Tour Ronde North Face. Map

Description

From Helbronner follow the same route as for Traverse of the Entrèves, until you are at the lowest point, under the Aiguille de Toule. From here contour, rather than go up on the main track, heading under the odd zone of crevasses and seracs, until you can head diagonally up L to the base of the Tour Ronde N Face. The crossing point of the rimaye varies year to year, sometimes on the L, leading to a long diagonal up and R, or more ideally on the R side of the face. The lower slopes are relatively easy, so in good conditions you can simply climb the neve. In leaner conditions you may wish to dig down through the snow ice, to get to the older ice underneath, for ice screw protection. You are aiming for “the narrows” on the R side of the N face, which splits the rocky buttress above. Take the line of least resistance of the couloir. In general, it is 45 to 50 degrees, with the odd short steeper section. Rock belays and runners are often available, though the climbing itself is predominantly snow and ice. Above here the angle relents slightly, though it feels a long way to the ridge above, particularly if you are unacclimatised. Follow the easy ridge above, including a short down climb, before a final mixed step leads to the summit Madonna. The panoramic view of the S side of Mt Blanc and down to Courmayeur is mesmerising. If this is your first route of this standard you will grinning from ear to ear. The descent is separately described as Tour Ronde Normal Route. It usually presents minimal difficulty, unless very dry.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep, sustained and serious terrain on rock/ice. Routes will be long, exposed and possibly committing. D, D+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

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

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, September, October

Equipment required

  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • Glacier kit
  • 2 Ice Axes
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area