|Aiguille du Chardonnet, Forbes Arête|
The Aiguille du Chardonnet is a classically beautiful mountain. From across the Chamonix Valley in the Aiguille Rouge, the Chardonnet appears to be a symmetrical, steep sided pyramid. From the opposite side, that of the Albert Premier Hut, it loses its symmetry but not its attractiveness.
There are no easy routes on this peak. The normal route is steep and intricate. It is not a "peak baggers" mountain. The popularity of the Chardonnet comes from its fine climbing, clean rock, fantastic views (especially to the west into the Argentière Glacier) and exposed ridges and buttresses.
A traverse of the Chardonnet from east to west via the Forbes Arête, is a climber's fantasy: a glacier approach; steep snow and ice to the ridge; snaking and winding over and around towers of solid granite in an unbelievably scenic setting; followed by a technical descent back to the glacier. This is one of our favorite outings in the Massif.
The Forbes Arête is difficul climb for experienced mountaineers. Though the climbing is not usually technically exptreme, the route is quite long, the descent complex and steep, and the climbing is varied and every changing.
There is steep snow and ice leading to the ridge proper, and many rock towers and icy sections follow. The rock is never much harder than about mid-5th class but much is climbed in the cold early morning and it may be snow covered or icy, requiring crampons.
|Sunrise on the Forbes Arête|
This is a route of skilled and experienced climbers. Climbers need to be able to move quickly on steep and exposed ground, both on rock and ice, and be comfortable climbing 5th class (French 4b) rock in crampons and big boots. Good fitness is key.
There are two other climbs easily accessed from the Albert Premier hut which can combine well with the Chardonnet, the Aiguille du Tour (best climbed by the Arête de la Table, and the Aiguille Purtsheller, who's best routes is the South Arête. The Tour is somewhat easier than the Forbes, and makes a good objective for the preceding day. The South Arête of the Purtscheller is a technically harder rock climb (we use rock shoes here) but is shorter and much less committing. A great four-day trip could include all four summits.
|Climbing on the Aiguille du Tour, Chardonnet behind|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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