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Wednesday
Jul292015

Eperon Minettes and Aiguille du Peigne

A short trip report on what I believe is the classiest and quickest way to the summit of the Aiguille du Peigne above the Plan de l'Aiguille mid station.

 

The Peigne is an incredibly classy needle summit with a "comb-like" summit ridge which is where its name is derived. Jen and I started from the first lift of day at 6:30 and made it back to the mid station at 3:30 moving efficiently but not overly fast. This was a day after Jen made quick work of the Mitteleggi Ridge on the Eiger, and world-class and classic alpine route which skirts the top of the Eiger's famous Nordwand. 

The Aiguille du Peigne as seen from the Genderme du Peigne.

The Minettes is the best approach for the Peigne because it involves classy crack climbing on clean rock. To find the start of the route begin up the normal approach gully but then get on the Eperon after about 120 meters of the normal gully. You will find a mossy corner crack to your right which marks one of the starts to the route. There are many variations but more or less you are following your nose around the crest. After a few pitches up to 4c you will find a long flat section of ridge which terminates in a steep buttress. Pass this buttress on the right and continue up scrambling terrain to join the normal approach to the Peigne tower proper. 

From the col between the genderme to Peigne and the Peigne itself we took the normal route. There are many topos for this route available online. Its a bit confusing the first time you do it. The best beta I have to give is: from the notch between the genderme and the Peigne, descend maybe 10 meters down the gully and look for a shiny single bolt on the wall. Belay here and do one 40 meter pitch which goes strait up a crack system which is very obvious. I traverse into the second crack to the right eventually, but you are aiming for an obvious bolted anchor (P1). P2 follows the same crack system to another obvious bolted anchor underneath a large roof. From here the standard route traverses right and out of view around a corner to a ledge system (P3). From here you can move together short roping always to the right. Be sure and have a good look: you are aiming for an obvious and well-worn arching dihedral system which leads directly to the southern ridge crest. From here you follow obvious cracks to the "comb" summit ridge, and eventually the stunning summit.

Jen on the final pitch of the Aiguille du Peigne

For the descent and the climb 1 50 meter rope is ideal. You make one steep rappel off the summit to a huge rocky ledge. Then walk 15 meters to the SW to and anchor situated above the ramp system your originally short roped across. You will make 3 25m rappels to ramp system. Then you can downclimb (on belay) the traversing pitch back to the nice bolted anchor underneath the overhang. From here you make 3 25 meter rappels to your starting point. 

A few notes about connecting the top of the Eperon Minettes or the Papillon. As you climb up broken 3rd class terrain you will see an obvious tower that you can either pass on the left or the right. Pass on the right, the left is horrible and loose and is only good when snow covered.

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