Cosmiques Arete, Mont Blanc Massif.
The Cosmiques Arete is the
spiky ridge to the right of the Aiguille du Midi Telepherique Station.
To me looking up at it from Chamonix, it looked temptingly impossible!
Its not a long route so Ron
and I joined the crowd of climbers queuing for the first cable car of the
morning. Ian had grunted when I left the apartment something about turning
off the light and disturbing people who wanted to sleep. He had decided to
go fat biking with Elaine apparently it was easier and safer though
judging by the amount of bruises that Elaine came back with, I'm not so
Blue skies and sunshine
|We left through the little ice tunnel out of the cable car
station. The snow ridge leading down to the Vallee Blanche appeared
very exposed and steep from the cable car but the snow was good. It
was just a matter of ignoring the drop on the left 3000 metres down
to Chamonix. The start of the route is beside an old mountain hut with
the newer Cosmiques Hut just five minutes away in an ideal setting at
the base of Mont Blanc du Tacul.
The route snakes up through
large rocky blocks then follows the crest of the ridge to a gendarme. We
moved to the right along a little snowy ledge then back onto the blocky
ridge until we came to the second gendarme a rock spire with a steep drop
abseil on the other side down to another snowy traverse. Back up onto
the ridge then we came to the steep wall which gives the highest technical
move of the climb. The wall is blank with a crack running diagonally across.
This looks like it once had little knobbles that would have held a toe but
now these are smooth and rounded through years of use. Some tape slings and
etriers had been left in place and we had to use these for our feet to reach
the ledge above.
||We were getting near to the cable car station. Every ten minutes
or so, a voice boomed out times of the next descending cable car. We
could hear the buzz of voices from the viewing platforms above.
Upwards of a thousand people visit the Aiguille du Midi each day to
enjoy the panoramic views. The Cosmiques Arete certainly does not have
the feel of a remote, get-away-from-it-all route.
Out of the sun on the left
side of the ridge felt very cold and we moved tentatively onwards. Where the
sun had yet to reach the rocks there was a thin layer of ice, cold to grip
with bare hands, slippery for feet. We kept to the left, it seemed the most
obvious way and not far to the ladders reaching up to the viewing platform
at the end of the climb. But this pitch felt the longest yet as inch by inch
first Ron then I traversed along a narrow sloping ledge relying on the
material of our trousers freezing to the rock for some grip. A crack on the
right of the ledge gave something to hook a foot into. It narrowed to the
point where I could no longer get my foot in just as a little ledge appeared
on my left onto which I could stand. A sigh of relief then a fight with a
tape sling that had frozen into a crack its still there then back onto
the ridge and into the warmth of the sun. (The next time we did the route we
took the 1st chimney/gully capped by flakes which is more pleasant..!)
We sat at the top for a
while enjoying the view over the Vallee Blanche and feeding the black Alpine
choughs. A few moments of peace before we joined the crowds and returned to
Aiguille du Midi - South South West (Cosmiques) Ridge
Guidebook Mont Blanc Massif Volume II, selected
climbs. Lindsay Griffin