Super Couloir Direct Mont Blanc du Tacu France

Mont Blanc du Tacul is a veritable ice-climbing university. This one mountain, which is accessible in an hour or so from the trttyhtriijue of the Aiguille du Midi (on the French side) or Courmayeur (on the Italian side), harbors more than a dozen classic ice climbs and several excellent mixed routes. These range in difficulty from the 45° Gervasutti Couloir (grade HI, Al2, 3,000 feet) to the Super Couloir Direct (grade V, WI5-, M6, 2,800 feet), one of the most compelling high-mountain ice climbs I have ever seen.

For several years after it was first climbed, the Super Couloir was considered perhaps the hardest ice climb in the Alps,- early ascents all required one or two bivouacs, although now it is almost always climbed in a day. However, most parties avoid the Direct start by climbing the first rock pitches of the Gervasutti Pillar, which forms the right-hand border of the couloir. The Direct start is often said to be out of condition because of too little ice. However, that is never the case,- it is very good mixed climbing, torqueing, hooking, and liebacking in thin-to-wide vertical cracks, even in the leanest conditions.

Regrettably, many people who climb the Super Couloir also stop at the end of

Supw Csulok Dlrett, Mont filonc du TkuI

Super Couloir Mont Blanc Tacul

Supw Csulok Dlrett, Mont filonc du TkuI

the crux water-ice pitch, which is still 1,000 feet from the top. Since this is a mountain route, 1 think that last section of easy snow and ice is an integral part of the climb and shouldn't be missed. Having said that, I have to admit that on my own solo climb in March 1993, t followed the fixed rappels from the end of the difficult climbing, my only excuse being that I had to make the 4:30 p.m. train from Montenvers at the bottom of the Mer de Glace. Considering that 1 had begun the climb at 11:30 a.m. and it was only 1:30 p.m. when 1 finished the difficulties, 1 still felt it was a good day on the hili.

Location: Mont Blanc du Tacul is a satellite peak of Mont Blanc, sitting at the head of the Vallée Blanche on the French side. The Super Couloir is Located on the Northeast Face and leads directly to the 12,947-foot summit. Good topographical maps of the range can be found in any bookstore in Chamonix. First Ascent: Patrick Gabarrou and JeanMarc Boivin, 1976 Elevation Gain; 2,800 feet, from 10,147 feet to 12,947 feet at the summit Difficulty: Grade V, Wl5-, M6 Time: 8 to 14 hours on the climb Equipment: Six or eight ice screws, two or three blade pitons, one or two small angle pitons, a few small to medium Stoppers, half a set of Friends,- head lamps, to avoid a possible bivouac,- skis and/or snowshoes to speed up the approach Season: October through June Comments; The Super Couloir is a very popular climb, and, if you don't want to be clobbered by ice from climbers above, you will have to get a very early start, The best way to do this is to take the téléphérique the night before your climb and stay at the Torino Hut. Approach: From either the Aiguille du Midi or the Torino Hut it is about an hour and a half by ski and foot across the Mer de Glace of the Vallée Blanche to the bottom of the Super Couloir, depending on the snow conditions.

237 ▼ Super Couloir Direct, Mont Blanc du Tacul, France

237 ▼ Super Couloir Direct, Mont Blanc du Tacul, France

Super Couloir Mont BlancGrand Central Couloir Kitchener

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(Photo: Ihmry Renault}

Route: Two pitches of difficult mixed climbing follow the direct fall line from the upper couloir Each of these pitches has some M6 climbing when done completely free, which is uncommon. Once in the couloir, 200 feet of easy snow leads to the bottom of the water ice, The first pitch is Wl4, and this is followed by six pitches of rolling WI3 ice to a final crux pitch (W15-). Above this point the angle recedes dramatically, and 1,000 feet of easy snow and possibly some mixed climbing lead to the summit. Descent: Descend the regular route down the west flank of the mountain, usually following a well-trodden trail in the snow, In a whiteout you will be glad to have a map and compass to help you find the correct way off the mountain and back across the glacier to the téléphérique or down the Mer de Glace, if you are continuing on skis.

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  • amanda
    When to climb super couloir?
    8 years ago

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