Aiguille Rouge de Varan - Face S (voie normale)
More a scramble than a climb. There are three or four short sections (10m) that merit a rope, if only because of the exposure.
From the parking at Coudray, Passy, follow the forest track to the chalets de Varan (refuge), then follow the well marked path (red paint) up the cwm to the Col de Barmerousse, below the Aiguilles Grise and Rouge de Varan. From the col, ignore the path on the right leading to the Refuge de Platé, likewise ignore the path on the left going up directly to the Aiguille Grise to go up between the two on the true left of a cwm which goes along a small rock barrier to reach the obvious gap between the Grise and the Rouge (often ibex). Plenty of cairns.
Climb up towards the rock pedestal (cairns and white paint marks.) Pick out the large white paint mark at the foot of the cliff. Climb the cliff (2 bolts with rings and a chain at the exit) Go up the grassy rounded shoulder which becomes stoney to reach a gap between a small rock pinnacle to the left and the main pinnacle on the to the right. A view looking down the huge drop westwards towards Sallanches. Traverse an exposed ledge to the left for 4 à 5m. Bypass to the right the steep rocks, (bolts). Climb a first chimney/gully for 12 m, (belay at the foot and the top From here there are two options:
• Either go straight up a corner (10m) on horizontal flakes of rock, impressive, (4, no bolts.)
• Or more easily by the normal route, traversing to the right and slight down to cross a little ascending ledge which turns back to the left and arrives easily at the summit by an exposed ramp. (Chain belay.)
Climb down the same way. ( It is also possible to make a 50m abseil form the second belay point from the summit.)
Linking together with the Aiguille Grise de Varan (2544m) : From the gap between the two aiguilles make a slightly rising traverse over easy ground to the left, (some cairns at the start) to join the path coming up from col de Barmerousse where it is horizontal. Go up the normal route which has two short chimneys of 3, not exposed but very polished. There are some bolts with rings , so abseiling is possible, 20m rope minimum.) A good 30m from the gap. Descend by the well marked path back to the col and Refuge du Varan.
• Well bolted but no longer any fixed ropes.
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