Added by Rachel Davidson
This is a challenging mixed ice and rock climb at high altitude. Take in spectacular, vertigo-inducing views above Chamonix Valley. This route is a killer warm-up for a climb of Mont Blanc.
The Aiguille du Midi Cable Car is the #1 tourist destination in the world’s capital for extreme sports, Chamonix. For regular tourists, a trip to the top of the 3842 m-high cable car museum provides plenty of excitement for one day. But for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, it’s just the starting point for countless high-altitude climbing routes.
This route describes one of the most popular point-to-point traverses that can be done within a day beginning at the Aiguille du Midi Station, often called the Midi-Plan Traverse or Aiguille du Plan Traverse. This route doesn’t actually climb the mountain of Aiguille du Plan, but rather descends to the saddle between the two main peaks and ascends back up to your starting point, for a reverse summit of Aiguille du Midi (3842 m). Check out the SummitPost Mont Blanc Group for a complete map of climbing routes and summits in the area.
For best success, catch the earliest cable car of the day – lift opens between 6:30 and 7am during peak summer months. Begin by exiting the museum at the Telepherique Station, a wide tunnel with grated floor so you can gear up before you step outside. You’ll follow a long, snowy, steep descent along a ridgeline and across a glaciated snowfield to the Col du Plan (3475 m). This mountain pass is your lowpoint of the day, from here you’ll turn right / north to hit the icy rock formation of Rognon du Plan (3601 m).
From the summit of Rognon, you’ll need to abseil or down climb a little lower again before hitting the true ridgeline that will traverse you up and over to your final destination. The final 2 kilometers involve class 5.6 scrambling and climbing, and climbers need to be prepared for some pretty alarming, razor-edge exposure on either side. I recommend keeping your crampons on at all times, even traversing the larger rock faces, as there is hidden ice all along the route.
This rocky, icy, precarious ridge will lead you all the way to the opposite exit + entrance of the Aiguille du Midi Station, onto a large grated platform. Enjoy the views at this picture-perfect picnic spot, and if you have time left before the last lift down, check out the museum!
Some people choose to stay at one of the huts or refuges high on the mountain to complete this traverse along with a climb of Aiguille du Plan, or to get a head start and avoid the crowds. Make sure you check with the Chamonix Tourism Centre and book well in advance if you plan to stay high on the mountain.
- Chamonix Ski Lift Pass
- Ice axe
- Mountaineering boots
- Alpine harness
- Figure-8 / Descender
- Plenty of water and snacks
- Plenty of sunscreen and sun protection
- Storm gear in case of sudden weather change
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