Jay Riley on the Frendo Spur • June 23-24, 2012

Jay, who hails from New Hampshire, took a couple days out of his extended France vacation to join Mark for some climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif.

Choosing a primary objective involved some head scratching, but in the end we opted for the super-classic Frendo Spur on the Aiguille du Midi. We elected to start our climb from an overnight at the Plan de l'Aiguille hut. Very conveniently, the hut is only a short walk from the Aiguille du Midi cable car mid-station. The quick approach allowed us to do a bit of crag climbing in the morning.

Other Trips with Jay

Alps climbing, June 2008
Alps climbing, August 2007
Alps climbing, August 2005
Chamonix to Zermatt, April 2004

Return to all recent trips


The route of the day was "Josiane" a fun 7-pitch slab route in the "Grandes Voies" section of Montenvers. Here's Jay with the Mer de Glace behind.


We arrived at Montenvers just in time to watch the sun peek from behind the Drus.


The approach is from the top, via some six or seven rappels. The Grands Charmoz behind.


Jay on one of the early pitches. The climb is mostly in the 4b to 5a range with a few harder moves up to a maximum of about 5c-6a.


The lovely Refuge du Plan de l'Aiguille.


A view of the north side of the Aiguille du Midi. This photo, taken from the Aiguille du Peigne some year before, gives a nice overview of the Frendo Spur. Mouse over to see the line.

Conditions in this photo are somewhat less snowy than in late-June 2012.


We left the hut about 4 in the morning, climbed up and across the Glacier des Pélerins, and onto the rock buttress proper. Here Jay makes himself comfortable low on the route.


Higher the sun comes out. We were accompanied on the route by a two French brothers and six Austrians, these last all planning to begin their guides training in the following week.


Looking up at the classic snow arête which defines the upper Frendo. Once up the snow ridge, there are three options: climb up and over the rock rognon (difficult), traverse right then up (quite long but less steep), and go round the left of the rognon. This last option is the most popular, and even though it involves some steeper ice (up to about 70 degrees) it is the most logical way to finish.


Climbers on the lower snow arête.


Jay on one of the first ice pitches.


An Austrian climber about to start up the last pitch of ice.


Looking the other direction, back to the belay.


Climbing the final easy snow slope to the top of the Spur.


Jay rejoices at the top of the climb.


All that remains is a short, relatively easy walk to the cable car.