Aiguille Carrée - Ravanel Frendo Route
This splendid ice gully is located on the NE slope of the Grands Montets ridge, in the depression before the Cordier corridor from Nant Blanc pass. Access is very fast and consists in skirting the foot of the ridge until notch between Tour Carré and Pointe Farrar. (30 min to 1H00)
Cross the bergschrund and go up the snow slope over 100m. Surmount 2 rather short sections (60°), then an ice-covered chimney (60°). After a snow slope, you arrive at the foot of a small cirque crossed by two ice gullies (15 m at 80°) which emerges in a vertical corridor of the cirque. If ice gullies are dry, ascend a small ridge on the left and go up a chimney shoot to arrive under an overhang. Cross it (UK-4c /US-5.7, physical mantle) then traverse on the right over 10m (2 pitons) until meeting the principal corridor. A first pitch (75° max) makes it possible to reach a ledge where belays are made well on the right. Then, traverse 8m on the left to reach a difficult ice gully (85°, 15m, 1 piton) which leads to ice plates and a last steep pitch on the left (90°, 10m, often lacking in ice). You are at the summit of the ice gully, but you still have 200 m of snow gully (50°) to reach the notch and top out the route. From the notch, the view of the Nant Blanc slope from the Verte and Dru justifies the final effort. From the bergschrund: 4H00 to 7H00.
Rappelling down by the ascent route. It is a good idea to take some slings to replace the belays in the corridor area at the gully summit. It is also possible to descend on foot via the corridor (50 to 55°) on the right side of the ascent line, be careful of the snow conditions.
Once at the bergschrund, there are two possibilities: - descend with the tram (if the schedule still allows it). Going back to station takes approximately 1H00. - take the classic descent route of Grands Montets: magic, on skis after the ice gully; rather long on foot or in snowshoes!
Very easily accessible ice gully but in altitude with all that this entails: -the weather can quickly become problematic, -minimum acclimatisation essential, -access and return over glacier, -long return on foot if you miss the tram.
Difficulties are concentrated on two pitches that conditions can really vary.
The corridor surmounting the ice gully can, after large snowfalls, cause spin-drifts and even large sluffs.
Accommodation: This ice gully can be easily done in a day. It can constitute a first ascent for a weekend, to combine with other ice gullies of the base of the cirque (Petit Viking, NF des Courtes…) after a night at the Argentière refuge. Tel: 04 50 53 16 92.
The text and images in this page are available
under a Creative Commons CC-by-sa licence.