|Mont Maudit, Frontier Ridge|
Mont Maudit at 4465 meters, or 14,645 feet, is the nearest satellite peak of Mont Blanc. Its distinct and lofty spire, and the great number of routes to get there, prove that it is a major objective in its own right. There is no very easy way to the top, as it sits in the midst of vast glaciers and involves at the very least a traverse over the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul from the Cosmiques hut. It is also home to very difficult routes from the south.
Arguably the finest route on Mont Maudit, and certainly one of the best in the range, is the Frontier Ridge, first climbed by M. von Kuffner, A. Burgener, J. Furrer and a porter in July of 1887. This famous route is also known as the "Kuffner Arête", or the "Tour Ronde Ridge". Mixed climbing on snow and ice up to 60 degrees for short sections, and beautiful 4th and easy 5th class rock, lead from the Col de la Fourche on the south side of the mountain, to a point high on the east ridge which is followed to the well-defined summit. Views throughout the climb are mind boggling - especially of the Brenva Face and south side of Mont Blanc.
The climb and descent to town can be done in one long day after a night spent in a hut at the Col de la Fourche. But because of the length of the route many climbers end up staying a second night at the Cosmiques hut after the climb. The approach to the Col de la Fourche hut is a climb in itself, involving a long glacier walk followed by a steep snow and ice climb to the col.
|The SE side of Mont Maudit|
This route on Mont Maudit is a classic mixed route, alternately on rock and ice. The difficulty is nowhere extreme, but it is continuously steep and in order to keep to good time we need to move quickly and easily over exposed moderate terrain. The traverse of the Pointe de l'Androsace requires particular attention.
This climb is a big day out, with an early pre-dawn start and a late afternoon finish.
For fit and experienced climbers comfortable on moderately steep ice, and on exposed rock of moderate difficulty with a day pack and boots.
This is a route of skilled mountaineers who have had significant experience on big routes. Good cramponing skill is require as well as a very high level of fitness.
From the Col de la Fourche hut, there are really not many other routes to do that will return you to this hut so logical combinations are few. However, since both the approach to the Fourche and the descent to the Cosmiques are in areas with so many other great climbs that potential combinations abound. Realistically, the Kuffner Arête on Maudit is such a big route, that most climbers are inclined to punctuate the route with a good rest in town before and after.
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
All images, layout and text ©2004 Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved
Your Comments - more info