|Aiguille du Tour, Arête de la Table|
The Table de Roc ridge on the Aiguille du Tour is a unique route. Not only is the climbing enjoyable, and the Tour a fine summit, but the Table, after which the route is named, is an amazing feature, one you are not likely to forget. To form the table, a giant granite block fell over on its side, and miraculously stayed perched right on the ridge crest. It has been there for many decades. and will likely continue to amuse and challenge climbers for many more years to come.
This route is primarily a rock climb, starting first on easy glacier then gaining the ridge which leads to the Table. From here, a sharp jagged crest of granite spires is followed to the summit of the Aiguille du Tour.
In the early season a fine variation can be had by climbing the Couloir de la Table, a steep snow gully on the southwest side of the peak. The Couloir leads to a notch in the ridge just above the Table, but it is also possible to exit to the left and gain the ridge below the Table, thus taking in this feature of the route.
Like the normal route on the Tour (which is our descent route) The Arête de la Table is reached from the Albert Premier hut, and this is where we spend the night preceding the climb. Rising early we climb up the edge of the Tour Glacier, gain the ridge leading to the Table (by one of the many options), arriving under the Table on a large ledge. To surmount the Table an exposed mantle is required. Easier but continually airy climbing leads to the sharp summit.
The Table du Roc is a moderately difficult climb. It is not overly long and we normally have time to complete the route (starting early from the hut) and either return to Chamonix the same day or have a relaxing afternoon back at the hut. But we do need to be able to keep to good time on the route, and climbers need to be able to move efficiently on steep and exposed rock.
The hardest climbing is about mid-5th class (French 5a), but the entire route is done in our mountaineering boots. If we climb the Couloir de la Table, we will encounter steep snow or ice to about 50 degrees.
|Looking down on the Arête duTable rom near the summit of the Tour|
Climbers on this route need to be able to follow 5.6 rock (French 4c) comfortably in mountaineering boots, have experience cramponing and be in good condition.
The Aiguille du Tour can be combined with an ascent of the Aiguille du Chardonnet for a fantastic 3-day outing. The preferred route on the Chardonnet is the Forbes Arête, a super-classic in the Alps. The Forbes is harder than the Tour, and longer, so a high level of climbing ability and experience is required for this combination. Another excellent route to combing with the Tour is the Aiguille Purtscheller, a fine rock summit and a great rock climb by its south ridge. This route on the Purtscheller is a technical rock climb of about 5.8 (French 5b-c) in difficulty and is normally done in rock shoes.
|Climbing on the Aiguille du Tour|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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