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Cosmiques Arête

First ascent: George Finch, Max Finch, 2 August 1911
By: Alberto De Giuli, Mountain Guide
Area: Western Alps, Group: Mont Blanc, Peak: Aguille du Midi, Country: France

The Cosmiques Arête is one of the most famous and popular climbs in the Mont Blanc massif, and quite rightly so. Excellent granite, exposure, incredible scenery and mid-grade mixed climbing (with some challenging sections thrown in) are the ingredients of this beautiful ridge, just a stone’s throw from the Aiguille du Midi cable car.

Less than half an hour after exiting the cable car leads to the start of the route, which begins easily on mixed terrain (snow and rock) and immediately becomes interesting by crossing snowy crests, making an exposed abseil and then shortly afterwards rappelling to the base of the great gendarme. Continue by making your way past other gendarmes of excellent granite and more snowy ridges towards the most technical section of the climb: a steep wall split by a diagonal crack (some artificial holes for the crampon points help everyone) followed by fun section on snow and rock. Once on the final snowy ridge, get ready to become a celebrity: tourists from all over the world wait on the rooftop terrace, wanting to take photos of you, the heroes of the mountain. Climb up the shaky staircase that leads to the terrace and, as Andy Warhol said, enjoy your 15 minutes of fame!

GETTING THERE

Reach Chamonix and take the Aiguille du Midi cable car.

ACCESS

From the cable car of the Aguille du Midi descend the ridge to the Col du Midi and leave the Cosmiques Refuge on the left to reach the base of the spur that ends on the terrace of the Hut itself. You climb on a snow slope and to watch the snowy ridge. Continue on the ridge (exposed passages on snow and rock, some anchorage on the most delicate points) until you reach the shelter's terrace. Path suitable for beginners.

ROUTE

From the Aiguille du Midi cable car descend down the ridge and continue to Col du Midi and then on to the Abri Simond bivouac not far from the Cosmiques Refuge, where the real ridge begins. Climb to the right of the ridge on a rock and snow slope of (small section of mixed climbing where the slope steepens). Move to the right (a few sections of 4b) until you reach the leaning slabs and climb up to the first gendarme. Follow the snowy ridge to the second point and from here make a downhill traverse (exposed, abseil possible, anchor) down 2 sections. Follow the wide ridge to its end where there is a rock with a chain and bolt. Abseil down this (20 m or more, depending on the conditions) down the steep gully and then continue across and traverse around the base of the first large tower. Ascend a chimney (4a) to reach a good ledge on the right (peg). Continue along the ridge above Cosmiques Couloir. Proceed to the right around the second tower and continue along the snowy ridge to some wide terraces below the rocks. From here climb the cracked slabs for a few meters (4c, some artificial holes for crampons), traverse rightwards along the cornice and follow the narrow rock and snow gully to a good terrace on the left to the belay (slings and pegs). Cross the terrace onto the NW face. Take a chimney gully, and then climb up the weathered face with cracks (2 pitches, 3c / 4a). Reach the last snow shoulder and ascend the metal staircase up onto the panoramic terrace.

NOTES

Beautiful airy ridgeline, a true classic, highly popular. Usuallly in condition from June to September.

The advantage of sleeping at Refuge des Cosmiques is that you will be one of the first to climb this ridge, so crowded during the day even by beginners who significantly slow down progression. The average time needed is circa 2.5 - 3 hours for a normal climbing partnership, in some "desperate" cases this can extend to almost seven hours!

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