|Mont Blanc du Tacul, Gervasutti Pillar|
The east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul is a huge wall rising from the upper Géant Glacier. Countless granite pillars and walls are bisected by deep icy couloirs. There are literally hundreds of great climbs on this wall and its satellite summits. The finest of the routes on this face, and arguably the finest on the mountain, is the Gervasutti Pillar. While we have done harder routes in the Alps, both of us would probably agree that this is the finest.
This steep and narrow rock buttress drops directly from the summit, and unlike many of the routes on this side of Mont Blanc du Tacul, it rises uninterrupted from glacier to summit, over 3000 feet high. This is a difficult alpine rock climb. Very long, fairly committing and technically demanding.
The pillar involves over 25 pitches of rock climbing leading directly to the summit. A pitch or two of 5.10a are only the technical crux of this long, sustained and committing route. For extremely fit and acclimatized, very experienced rock climbers comfortable following 5.10 with a day pack. It is possible to climb most of the route and then rappel allowing us to leave boots, crampons and ice ax at the base. However the best way to do the climb is in its entirety, from the base to the summit, which requires that our snow and approach gear be carried up the route. The approach and descent are via easy glacier and snow slopes, and the climb is done from the Cosmiques hut.
The total time for this climb usually involves parts of 3 days. The first day is the approach to the Cosmiques Hut, the climb is completed on the second day, and a third day is normally required to get back to town , as it is unlikely that we will descend from this long route in time to catch the last telepherique into Chamonix, necessitating another night in the Cosmiques Hut.
|High on the Gervasutti Pillar|
The Gervasutti Pillar is probably the most difficult route we describe in the Alps section of our web site. Even though there is technically difficulty climbing (5.10 with a pack) the challenge of this route is to keep to good time, completing all the technical climbing in time to summit before sundown. If climbed to the top (the best way to do it) there are over 30 pitches of belayed climbing.
Very strong rock climbing skills, a high level of fitness and ability to move quickly and safely on exposed but more moderate terrain.
There are countless other great routes climbed from the Cosmiques hut (our starting point for the Pillar). Other good alpine rock routes include the Rébuffat route, or the Eperon des Cosmiques, both on the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi, or the routes on the Southeast Face of Pointe Lachenal.
|Nearing the top of the Gervasutti Pillar|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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