|Tour Ronde, Southeast Arête|
The Tour Ronde has a fantastic situation on the southern edge of the Vallée Blanche. The views from the summit of the massive and complex Brenva face on Mont Blanc, of the steep south face of Mont Maudit, and of the granite towers of the Grand Capucin are impressively close. One can also see down into the Val Veni in Italy, over to the Dent du Géant, the huge face of the Grandes Jorasses, and beyond to the Aiguille Verte, and the Aiguille d'Argentière.
The Southeast Arête of the Tour Ronde is an excellent moderate mixed climb, with airy sections on the granite crest, over and around numerous towers, finishing with easy snow and a last bit of scrambling along the crest to the spectacular summit block.
We usually climb the Tour Ronde in two days, typically basing from the Torino hut, just over the border in Italy at the southern extreme of the Géant Glacier. The hut overlooks the Italian Val Veni and the alpine village of Courmayeur. Great pasta and espresso!
The approach to the Torino hut can be done completely via cable car from Chamonix, going first to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi, and then continuing on the Hellbronner lift for an extremely scenic traverse above the Vallée Blanche. This approach day can be made to accommodate another short climb, such as the Cosmiques Arête on the Aiguille du Midi, or the Traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves.
Alternatively, of course, an ascent of the Tour Ronde can be fit into a longer itinerary taking in various climbs and summits in the Vallée Blanche. Some options are the Dent du Géant, the Trident du Tacul or the Pyramide du Tacul.
|The final snow slope to the summit rocks|
The Southeast Arête of the Tour Ronde is a varied climb involving both rock and snow climbing. Much of the route is fairly easy, but there are a few difficult sections where the rock climbing becomes mid-fifth class.
The approach is not very long from the Torino hut, taking perhaps a little over an hour to the base of the climb. But we need to keep to good time as the descent must be made early in the morning before the sun has had time to warm the snow or loosen rock.
Climbers need to know how to flat-foot up moderately steep frozen snow. On the rock of the Southeast Ridge, climbers need to be able to follow about 5.6 comfortably. Fitness is important.
From the Torino hut there are a number of other climbs readily accessible. The Traverse of the Aiguille d'Entrèves can be done on the day you climb move to the hut, as can the East Arête of the Pyramide du Tacul. Also recommended is the Rochefort Arête and the Dent du Géant.
|Mont Blanc and the Madonna on the summit of the Tour Ronde|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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