Mont Maudit - Kuffner Ridge (Frontier Ridge)
Mont Maudit is located between Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Blanc at an altitude of 4465m. It is a very aesthetic summit, usually bypassed by parties climbing Mont Blanc via the “3 Monts”.
To climb Kuffner ridge, one must get to Bivouac de la Fourche. There are 2 ways: from Aiguille du Midi or Pointe Helbronner. From one of these two points head to Cirque Maudit, very wild and yet easily accessible.
Approach # 3h
From Aiguille du Midi, descend the E ridge until the altitude of 3670m. From there, pass the bergschrund and and crosss the Col du Midi plateau to go between the Grand Rognon and Pointe Lachenal. Then go due S towards the Pyramide du Tacul and Pointe Adolphe Rey. Here you enter Cirque Maudit. Zigzag between large crevasses while remaining not far from the rocks of Roi de Siam and Petit Capucin. When level with the Grand Capucin, the ground is less steep and less crevassed. You can then reach the middle of Cirque Maudit and head towards the base of the couloir leading up to Col de la Fourche. Overcome the bergschrund and climb the gully to the col at the foot of the Kuffner, (Frontier,) ridge. The gully is rather steep, approximately 45 to 50° for 150m. From Col de la Fourche, the Bivouac de la Fourche is 50m on the left, via easy mixed terrain. The refuge is located slightly below the ridge, on the Italian side.
Route # 4 to 7 hours
From the bivouac, take the ridge which is initially snowy. You pass a small gendarme to continue then via mixed. A thin snow or ice ridge leads to the foot of the lower steep section of Kuffner ridge. Climb just to the right from the ridge via an ice gully to reach the ridge when it becomes snowy. Follow it as far as the summit of the steep pitch which forms a cornice. You arrive on a superb, very exposed but not steep, snowy ridge which leads to the base of Pointe de l’Androsace.
You pass to the Brenva side, via a snow and rock slope (slings in-situ). Then go up a small gully not too close to the rocks to reach the ridge. You arrive behind the summit of Pointe de l’Androsace at a notch. A belay in-situ. Variant: it is possible to climb the Androsace pinnacle by some steps of UK-4a /US-5.5. From the summit, a small rappel leads to the notch mentioned above. This small variant lengthens the route slightly. The notch forms a small platform which runs into the upper steep section. Climb this steep section by a gully, first straight then right and finally left to get to the NE ridge of Mont Maudit, 100m under the shoulder. From the shoulder and via a long corniced ridge, you reach the summit of Mont Maudit. If necessary, you can end the route at the shoulder (Epaule du Maudit).
From the NE ridge of Mont Maudit, you can escape via a steep slope on the N face, to join the descent route of Mont Maudit at the level of the Col Maudit. From the summit of Mont Maudit, begin the descent down the NW ridge, in the direction of Mont Blanc in order to pass a rocky bastion. Rather steep slope. By a traverse to the right, (when descending), you reach the pass of Mont Maudit at 4345m, where yoy join the “3 Monts route”. At this place, a wooden stake is generally in-situ to carry out a first abseil until a rock then a second abseil to pass the usually very open bergschrund. From there, descend towards Col Maudit. Be aware of the threatening seracs. Go to the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul. Around 4080m, descend completely N then in the direction of the base of the triangle of Tacul by passing successively 2 bergschrunds which can be steep depending on the conditions or the season. Be careful, the slopes of the normal Tacul route can be weighted with snow. From Col du Midi, you can easily reach Aiguille du Midi and the cable car back to Chamonix.
The ridge part of the route faces SE and gets the sun from when it comes up. It is between 3700m and 4400m.
500m of height gain the first day to the Fourche bivouac-refuge, 700m of height gain the next day for the Kuffner ridge (600m until the shoulder). You must add 250m for the return to Aiguille du Midi which brings the total to 1450m.
Very beautiful mainly snowy route with some mixed and rocky sequences up to UK-3c /US-5.5. Unimpeded view on Cirque Maudit and the Italian slope of Mont Blanc.
Be aware of serac and wind slab danger in certain conditions on the approach and even more so on the descent.
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