This extensive granite crag is at the top of the Chamonix Valley, just over the Col des Montets – it’s actually in Switzerland (by a couple of hundred metres), though happily there are no border guards!
It’s a pleasant wander through the charming hamlet of Barberine,
then a short stomp up through woods to fairly easily locate the very shallow angled but smooth lower slabs. From here you get a good view of the upper pitches (typically six to eight of them) on sector Vipere au Pied. You can just about see a couple of parties on the routes to the left.
These look like superb adventures, but unfortunately in the 12CB4 category, once we’ve got a team back with a full complement of unbroken ribs.
Sticking with the no hanging stances policy, we worked our way around towards the top of the lower slabs and set off up the first couple of pitches of Balade au Bout des Combes. Not much to go off in the Rockfax description, but the first pitch felt okay for 6a up a featured rib and overlap, and whilst the second pitch had a couple of stiff pulls (not helped by the rope drag combining it in a oner) it didn’t seem too hard for 6b+. Here’s Helen powering through the overlap.
Next up we tried to find Tour de Chauffe, and soon realised that’s what we’d actually already climbed: 5c and 6a 😦 Bugger.
To make matters worse, the actual 6a first pitch of B au B de C was one of those granite slabs where “slab” translates as “no holds and much skin-grating capacity”. Unwilling to trust my feet at one point, I ended up standing on a bolt to reach the next hold – oh the ignominy!
We rounded off with one of the routes on the lower slab – here’s Helen padding up Fabrer with Mt Blanc in the background.
Grand spot – we’ll be back!