Sunday, 31 July 2011

Aiguille d'Argentiere ,,, via Fleche Rousse

Skiing anyone? Found this on the walk in to the hut ...

Dehyd for dinner ...

An early-ish start (before 4am - sigh!) from our bivvy on the snow saw us trudging uphill again, headed for a ridge on the east of Aiguille d'Argentiere. We slotted in behind a couple of guided groups, also headed for the same ridge, but who had already been going for 45 minutes having started from the hut. We felt a bit smug, having been able to sleep in 45 minutes later as our bivvy was 200-300m higher than the hut.
Dawn - and we're already a long way up (but with a lot further to go!)
As the light started to grow we approached the crest of the Fleche Rousse ridge, pressing on the heels of the group in front of us... only to get a short sharp lesson, as a flailing foot sent a shower of small rocks down onto us. With no damage done and our lesson learnt, we gave them some more space. Starting the on the mixed ground that continued most of the way up to Fleche Rousse, we reached the ridge just before sunrise and we were greeted by great views out towards Switzerland.

From here the route threaded along the ridge, often just off the crest, turning rocky gendarmes on either side as we moved together along rock ledges, snowy couloirs and everything in between. Even early in the morning we could feel the effect of the sun on the east and south facing slopes and were glad of the early(ish) start and that the descent was on the NW side.

A short rock pitch, that felt much tougher than anything in our topo had us to expect, lead us to the top of Fleche Rousse. It also lead us to wonder if we should have followed the group in front of us so exactly and also to curse climbing in crampons and not rock shoes... we think we missed the easy way up! Or are we just soft?

Just before the first summit of the day ... looking back down the ridge and at a very tired Jen!
Feeling the sun (but not feeling that we were climbing fast) we pressed on past the first summit of the day without stopping, abseiling down to the summit ridge of Aiguille d'Argentiere – the end of the mixed ground and now just simple snow plodding to the top. After a quick snack on the summit, we headed down the steep Mileu glacier, ending up frontpointing and daggering our way down for longer than we expected.
The summit shot!
Once down off the glacier, lunch in the sun called and then a stroll over the moraine back to the hut, returning some dropped gear to one of the parties who had been in front of us. Then we turned our back on the people lounging in the sun, with their beers, playing chess or cards at the tables... and faced uphill towards our tent, for that extra 200-300 vertical metres that we'd felt so smug about at 4am...
And down again ...


  1. What would you wrecon the hard rock section goes at, fair to say a short (UK - VS4b)? Can you get some cams in? - I'm looking at this with a mate for 1st week in Sept.



    1. Uh ... it was a couple of years and many routes ago now, and honestly, we can't really remember. It was a pretty short section of a couple of tough moves (done in boots and crampons) - hard enough that made us think that perhaps we'd missed a simpler way up, but not terribly long or that difficult.

      We don't know what to advise - just take it easy out there and have fun!