ENVERS DES AIGUILLES


The Envers des Aiguilles is the legendary granite climbing area of the Alps - if you like climbing exceptional granite, bathed in sun and with a stunning alpine view, you'll enjoy the Envers. The rock is almost universally good quality, with loose blocks on ledges being the only real objective danger. Many of the routes can be approached without stepping onto a glacier (other than the walking up the Mer de Glace on the approach to the hut) so climbing here is generally quite low stress by alpinism standards. Most of the pitches follow strong features so route finding is mainly quite intuitive, but the sheer size of the faces mean that a 30m pitch can look tiny on our photo-topos.
Virtually every route has bolted belays, equipped for abseil, so generally you need only carry one small day pack between two climbers and you can leave your mountain boots and other heavy kit at the foot of the routes. There are also bolts on the blanker sections so, although the majority of pitches are protected with trad gear (every route in this chapter requires a trad rack), there should never be any huge run-outs.
The area is served by an excellent hut - the Refuge de l'Envers des Aiguilles - which even has its own sport crag, directly below the hut itself. It can be difficult to locate and differentiate the routes on the crag so ask the guardian for an up-to-date topo.
It is worth noting that the routes described here are only a sample of what is available and that there are routes on places like the south face of the Fou that are major faces with some superb routes. The faces covered in this section also have many additional lines. If you want to explore the area further, then Michel Piola's excellent comprehensive 'Envers des Aiguilles' guidebook is well worth buying.

Conditions
Being rock based, these routes have to be dry. Luckily most face south or west and need only one full day of sun at most after bad weather in order to be climbable. Snow can linger on some of the bigger ledges of the area well into July, but steeper and less broken routes are usually climbable from early June onwards and even those with snow on the ledges are usually fine if you don't mind getting cold feet occasionally! Generally, something will be climbable after as little as a couple of hours of sun so the area is ideal in variable weather.

Routes

31 trad routes (D+...ED2)
2 trad routes (D+...TD+)
Graded List of Routes
List of First Ascents
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Buttress (click for routes) No. of Routes Route Type Sunshine
or shade
Approach walk Other
Aiguille du Plan
The Arête Ryan is an old-school classic that now sees few ascents, mainly due to glacial retreat whi
1
Trad
Sun to mid-afternoon
Uphill

20 mins

Pointes des Nantillons
An expanse of stunning and accessible rock which is home to some brilliant granite climbs.
5
Trad
Sun to mid-afternoon
Uphill

20 mins

Bec d'Oiseau
A wild and rarely climbed route with a superb line to the summit. The climbing is varied throughout...
1
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

20 mins

Tour Verte
Some great routes which are situated just above the hut.
3
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

10 mins

Tour Rouge
A brilliant peak, split by line after line of perfect granite; this represents modern Alpine rock...
5
Trad
Sun to mid-afternoon
Uphill

20 mins

Grépon East Face
This huge face of excellent rock is covered ain a series of top class climbs. The left-hand side is...
12
Trad
Sun to mid-afternoon
Uphill

20 mins

Pointe 3038 de Trélaporte
A stunning route up a series of corners and cracks - this is a belter! The belays on the route are...
1
Trad
No sun
Uphill

20 mins

Pilier des Contes
This is a superb collection of wonderful granite routes, ideal for a more relaxed day. If you're...
3
Trad
Sun to mid-afternoon
Uphill

10 mins

Lower Slabs of Envers
These slabs form part of the true left bank of the Mer de Glace and can be accessed in about 1.5...
2
Trad
Lots of sun!
Uphill

60 mins

Abseil
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