Les Aiguilles de Chamonix
We made several trips up to the Chamonix Aiguilles. A
bivouac at the Chalet Austria, a semi-ruined shack on the Montenvers -
Plan de l’Aiguille path or at Plan de l’Aiguillle itself (there is a
pleasant spot to camp next to the lake) is preferable to a hard slog up
from the valley before the climb. Good training climbs can be found on
the Aiguille de l’M, either the easy North North East Ridge or a choice of
more technical rock routes on the Chamonix face, all of which are safe
even in poor weather.
Most of the other aiguilles, despite the proximity of
the valley, can be dangerous in bad weather, notably if a thunder storm
comes along, as they frequently do. The Aiguille du Peigne, although one
of the lowest, has I very bad reputation for lightning, perhaps because
of it’s crenulated ridge. Feeling the current running down a wet rope
is an interesting experience, as I discovered a few years later.
In 1969, apart from the M we had a salutary experience
on the Grepon and the dreaded Nantillons Glacier, and a very pleasant
climb on the Peigne by the Papillons Arête, the Chamonix Face, and the
Lépiney crack. For this last climb of the season, we broke our rule and took the télépherique du Midi to Plan
de l’Aiguille first thing in the morning and got back comfortably the
same evening to the Biolay.