|Tour Ronde, North Face and Gervasutti Couloir
For ice climbers, the North Face of the Tour Ronde is a challenging route with 10-12 pitches of continuous ice to 60 degrees. The Face is about 1200 feet high, narrowing to an icy couloir in the middle section then opening up again on the final broad and exposed upper slopes. On this popular route it pays to get up early, not only to minimize possible rockfall (the route gets morning sun) but to be ahead of other parties.
The Gervasutti Couloir is a similar route which lies around to the right in a hidden slot in the west face. Slightly shorter and more enclosed by the surrounding rock walls, it lacks the big sense of exposure of the North Face. But it is often a good choice if the Face is crowded or a slightly shorter objective is needed.
For climbs of the Tour Ronde we stay in either the Torino of the Cosmiques hut, both readily acible from chamonix. An early start is advised in order to be past the summit and on our way down before the sun begins to warm the east face, our descent route.
Both of these routes are technical alpine ice routes. Usually we belay nearly the entire route. Good french technique cramponing skills as well as skills needed for steeper ice (frontpointing and using two ice tools) are needed.
These routes are a good intorduction to the longer and harder ice routes of the french Alps.
Climbers should have experience on steep ice up to about grade 4 in difficulty and be comfortable on very firm snow, using French technique crampons on angles as great as 45 degrees.
There are many, many routes easily accessible from the Torino or Cosmiques hut. Some good examples of ice or mixed routes are the climbs on the North Face Triangle of Mont Blanc du Tacul, the Midi-Plan Travese, and the Kuffner Arête on Mont Maudit. The routes on Mont Blanc du Tacul and the Midi-Plan Traverse both are climbed from the Cosmiques hut. The Kuffner Arête is climbed from the Col de Fourche hut.
|The Tour Ronde from the north
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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