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An Alps Climbing Photo Sampler

Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Rocky ridges, with vast snow-capped peaks, and ice riddled granite faces: This photo captures what The Alps offers. Plus, pure joy!

A look up one of the infinity of splitter cracks on Aiguille de Blatiere's Pilier Rouge (Red Pillar). This formation is accessed via the Midi-Plan Gondola, for an easy day trip.

More from Blatiere's Red Pillar. Routes in this area are mainly around 8-pitches and range from 5.9-5.11. Nabot-Leon (5.9+) is one of the favorites and Majorette Thatcher (5.11a) deals out plenty of crack challenges.

One of the most classic--and photogenic--routes in The Alps, The Arete des Cosmiques, is a stellar rock ridge. Quick access via the Midi Gondola whisks you from an espresso in the valley up to the 12,605' summit. Within minutes, you're crossing an immense glacier, headed towards this serpentine line.

After crossing the glacier, the Aretes des Cosmiques begins with some rock scrambling, gradually getting onto a thinner and thinner spiny ridge that looks a bit like riding the back of a stegasoraus! After some moderate rock challenges, the route tops out back at the gondola, making for a quick descent back to the valley. If only all alpine descents could be this smooth!

Mixed lines like the Chere Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul will frequently last into July. The Chere features mixed climbing in the M3-4 range with WI3-4 climbing. Sometimes just the first 4 pitches are done, sometimes it is climbed to the top of the Tacul.

Another perspective on the Chere Couloir, one of many on the Tacul. Another favorite is the Contamine-Grisolle, a more moderate but longer line up the left side of the angular face of the Tacul. All these lines are easy to access from the valley in a day.

For those that like their challenges a bit more remote, The South Ridge of Aiguille de Moine is the perfect answer. Several hours of hiking up the Mer de Glace Glacier and up an endless ladder via ferrata system leads to the base of a high-quality granite ridge leading to it's needle-like summit in an unmatched locale.

Despite its remote locale, you can still enjoy a tasty pastry and some coffee at the Couvercle Hut, following your climb of Aiguille de Moine, reviving you for the trek back to civilization.

The perfect pyramid shape of the Matterhorn seems to serve as a beacon to anyone with a climbing bone in their body. After arriving in the town of Zermatt and taking the lift up to Schwarzee, a few hours of hiking takes you to the Hornli Hutte.

With almost 4000' of rock climbing and scrambling to ascend and descent, mornings on the Matterhorn start by headlamp, until the beauty of sunrise lights the way.

Fixed lines are in place in some of the Matterhorn's more technical sections, but it's still a physical challenge at altitude, moving fast over serious mountain terrain.

The sweeping limestone faces of the Hornli Ridge provide both climbing and route-finding challenges. Ascent usually takes 5-6 hours and descent can take even longer.

Across the valley from the Mont Blanc Massif, you'll find another climbing wonderland, the Aiguille Rouge. The Clocher-Clocheton Traverse is one of a vast list of options--but the only one to feature a Tyrolean Traverse! This traverse makes for an excellent alpine rock outing that starts with a croissant in the valley and lands you back down there in time for a beer.

While the Clocher-Clocheton Traverse may be the only alpine rock climb with a Tyrolean Traverse, you can also find a mellower one on the Via des Evettes, a via ferrata (climbing along fixed cables) in the Aiguille Rouge. Via ferrata make for accessible, enjoyable family outings.

The Panoramique Gondola is a must-do for any Chamonix visitor, climber and non-climber alike. This cable spans from France to Italy and provides an incredible aerial view over miles of massive glaciation. Non-climbers will enjoy an espresso in Italy before heading back to France. Climbers will stay to enjoy another universe of options.

This is a shot of the Swiss Route on The Grand Capucin. The Capucin dishes out some of the highest-quality, hardest climbing in The Alps. Nearby there are excellent, more moderate ridge options like the Entreves Traverse and the Marbrees Traverse, as well as the iconic Dent de Geant.

A little sister to the Capucin, The Chandelle features similar, compact, impeccable golden granite.

Further over on the Italian side, you'll find myriad enticing options. This shot is from the massive Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. Other area classics include the Kuffner Arete, Arete du Diable, and Innominata Ridge.

An excellent place for higher-end (5.10 and up) rock climbing is the Envers des Aiguilles--but you've got to earn it! A long hike up the Mer de Glace Glacier leads to Escher-esque ladders and a winding trail to the Envers. There, you'll find unsurpassed granite crack climbing and quite a bit of granite face climbing as well.

Whether following sinuous ridges, glacial plateaus, ice faces, via ferrata cables, or sweeping granite crack lines, all your days in The Alps include challenge, comraderie, and the reward of working hard towards a shared goal. I look forward to sharing in that process with you.

What a Summer 2022 season it was! The Alps truly are exceptional in all that they offer. Amazing access to a vast array of technical terrain that will focus the mind and challenge the body, no matter where you are in your alpine progression. Some days end at huts, complete with delicious meals and sustained alpine views. Other days end with freeze-dried dinner on a bivouac along a high mountain ridge. And others end in the valley, with a shower, more delicious meals in town, and a view of the skyline you just climbed.

The type of terrain is also unparalleled. Golden granite spires jutting out of the glaciers, sinewy alpine ridges rising up to the top of Europe, mixed/ice lines up shaded alpine couloirs, and shorter days of warm alpine rock and even via ferratas are all available and they are available in a range of climbing difficulties.

Another remarkable thing about Chamonix is the diversity of activities it offers for non-climbers in your family or friend crew. You can climb in the daytime and have quality times connecting and comparing notes with them at day's end. For anyone with even mild outdoor interests, there are endless options: Top-notch alpine hiking, accessed via lift or straight-up from the valley floor--between alpine lakes and peaks, with pleasant chalets along the way for refreshment. Rafting on the Arveyon river takes you right through the heart of town. Vast mountain biking networks cover the area. And para-gliding provides another way to view and enjoy the mountains. Even for those with lower activity and adventure levels, a simple gondola trip up to the 12K top of the Aiguille du Midi, followed with the Panoramique lift across miles of vast glacier, lands you in Italy for an afternoon coffee. And a trip up the Montenvers railway to the Mer de Glace glacial caves is another unforgettable experience. Additionally, urban centers like Geneva and classic French towns like Annecy are only about an hour away, making it easy to meet everyone's interests.

Here's a photo look at some 2022 Alps highlights. I hope to be a part of your 2023 Alps aspirations—do be in touch and let's put the perfect plan together for you!