|Les Dômes de Miage Traverse|
To the northwest of Mont Blanc there are a number of fine summits that visitors to Chamonix often overlook. Two of the most impressive and are the Aiguille de Bionnassay and the Dômes de Miage. While the Bionnassay is a difficult climb, the Traverse of the of the Dômes de Miage offers a very fine two or three day outing of more moderate climbing.
The climb itself traverses the three summits of the peak and includes both rock and ice. In the photos on this page you can see that the route is often right on the crest of the the snow arête, exposed and airy. But usually there is a good track and the climbing is not overly technical.
This route is very scenic, and the views of nearby Mont Blanc and the Bionnassay are hard to beat. As a final bonus, we stay at the Conscrits hut, a very new, thoroughly modern and comfortable hut, one of the best in the massif.
To reach the hut wee must hike from near the town of Contamines, to the west of Mont Blanc. We start by following for a short way the Tour du Mont Blanc, the famous trail that circumnavigates the entire range. But soon we leave this route and climb up towards the Conscrits hut on the edge of the glacier. Part of our approach to the hut involves getting on the glacier itself, which is usually bare ice and covered with rubble. Normally crampons are not necessary for this section. Higher we leave the glacier and climb through beautiful alpine meadows to finally reach the hut.
The Dômes can be traversed in either direction, though the east to west sense is more common. We start gradually, first on trail, then on glacier, finally reaching the col, just east of the east summit. We follow the ridge back left over all the summits, before descending back to the hut on easy terrain.
|The Conscrits hut|
The difficulty of this climb varies a bit with conditions. Earlier in the season, when there is more snow, the track is usually better, and there is less ice on the route. But even later in the year, conditions are usually quite good, and the climb can be done most any time from June through September.
Though the technical difficulties are not great, this is a long route, both in the approach to the hut, as well as in the climb itself. Good fitness is key, as well as a certain degree of comfort in crampons on steep slopes. There are only a few belayed sections, usually on ice, once the snow has melted off.
Climbers need to know how to flat-foot up moderately steep frozen snow, as well as front point on harder ice. Fitness is important, as the days are long on this route.
From the Conscrits hut, you can traverse the Dômes de Miage, and continue to the Refuge Durier at the foot the Aiguille de Bionnassay. This, in turn can be traversed the following day to the Dome du Goûter. From here, you can either descend the normal route on Mont Blanc, go down to the Goûter hut and climb Mont Blanc the following day, or, if you are super fit and very ambitious, continue over Mont Blanc and reverse the Traverse from the Aiguille du Midi for a grand traverse of the massif.
The most sensible way to do this major traverse is to plan on nights at the Conscrits, Durier and Goûter huts, then finish via the Aiguille du Midi.
All ascents of the Aiguille de Bionnassay are difficult, considerably harder than the Miage and suitable only for highly experienced climbers.
|On the Dômes de Miage|
|On the approach to the Conscrits hut|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
All images, layout and text ©2004 Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved
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