Aiguille de l'M - NNE ridge
Approach # 1h30 to 2hrs from Montenvers, 2 to 2h30 from Plan de l’Aiguille
Two approaches are possible:
From Montenvers follow the path towards the Plan de l’Aiguille, until faint path on the left. This goes up at first, than makes some very easy angled hairpins before traversing a long way to the right. It then heads straight up towards the foot of left hand ridge of l’Aiguille de l’M.
From the Plan de l’Aiguille, follow various paths towards the E, below Lac Bleu, then reach the moraine of the left bank of the Blaitière glacier. Cross it obliquely (it is covered in stones), then reach the right hand moraine, and cross the boulders (two faint paths, the lower one passes some bivvy sites) to reach the Nantillons moraine. Cross the lower snout of the glacier, (exposed to stonefall and seracs,) going markedly downwards, to reach a faint path on the other bank, which climbs back up to a little, grassy col under the NW face of the Aiguille de l’M, (which is straight in front of you.) From there, traverse under the N face, either just below where it steepens (stonefall risk,) or lower down. One reaches a shoulder under the NNE ridge, then some slabs.
The route starts at the foot of some nice slabs, not far from a snow gully, which borders the first part of the ridge to the E.
L# | : Easy rocks lead to the start of the real climbing, a move onto a slab with a thin crack, followed by a crack to the right, then another to the left, (4c). Belay on some flakes at the foot of a chimney. L# | : Climb this short chimney by the left, then a steep wall above a niche, (2 pitons, a move of 5a), to reach a large terrace, which overlooks the N face. Belay on a large boulder L# | : Climb a big corner, thankfully not vertical, but very smooth and cut by one or two deep cracks where you can work on your knee jamming technique (4c.) Belay on a welcome terrace (pegs.) L# | : There is an overhanging flake of rock. The next belay (no. 4) is on a good terrace with solid flakes. L# | : Careful, directly above the belay there are two pegs, which are on a harder, more exposed variation (6a). Traverse 3-4m to the left on a ledge which stops, climb up some steep runnels (short passage of 5b, pegs), a little layback corner then gain a ledge to the right, a letter box which leads to the N face. L# | : Here again be careful, above there is another letter box, with rotting slings. There are also some pegs in the bulge above, which lead into difficult ground. Cross the letterbox to the right and climb the large blocks (3c), until the summit ridge.
From just below the summit, make an 23m abseil from bolts, (at least two options.) This is quickly followed by a second abseil of 10m. From here, scramble diagonally downwards, (to the right looking down,) for about 45m to another abseil point. A 15m abseil brings you to the Col de la Buche
Descend the Buche gully, firstly on the left bank then briefly on the right bank before crossing back to the left bank, (cairn) to reach a path which leads to some ladders and hand rails and so to the loose moraine debris at the side of the Nantillons glacier.
Warm and sunny! The first pitches are in the shade in the morning.
It is short but worth the effort. Be warned: polished holds and the « Chamonix grade 4.»
There maybe climbers on the « Menegaux », careful not to dislodge stones.
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