Traversée des Drus

Traversée des Drus


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Associated waypoints

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  • Swisstopo - 46 - Val de Bagnes
  • Swisstopo - 282 - Martigny
  • Swisstopo - 1344 - Col de Balme
  • IGN - 3630OT - Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc



route_types: traverse
durations: 2 day(s)
configuration: face

quality: medium


  A0    IV    P3 


elevation_max: 3754 m

height_diff_up: 900 m

height_diff_difficulties: 500 m


glacier_gear: glacier_safety_gear





It is recommended to check out the glacier the night before.
Go up the Charpoua rock outcrop to about 3000m altitude. Traverse the glacier, go around some big crevasses to reach the foot of the S face of the Grand Dru by a long, horizontal ledge.

Avant le Z au grand dru
Avant le Z au grand dru


The Petit Dru
Traverse leftwards to reach a large gully coming down from point 3308m on the Flammes de Pierre ridge. Climb up it until the ridge, then follow this to the right. Climb a chimney leading to a square cut gap at the foot of Pinnacle 3361m, to join the obvious crest of the SW ridge. Follow the ridge, which steepens and becomes indistinct as part of the face, by a series of chimneys and cracks.
2 key sections :

o The chimney with a jammed block with an exit onto an exposed slab in the first third of the ascension.
o The slab with a thin crack which leads up to a vein of quartz in the last third of the ascension.
A pitch and a half before the summit, traverse to the right by a narrow, exposed ledge, (above a slot in the rocks,) to go around the rib and reach an obvious gully which leads to the Virgin , (summit.)

Traverse to the Grand Dru
Go down to the gap between the Drus, to start the climb up the Grand Dru. Climb 5-6m up a thin crack to reach a ledge which is followed to the right, then leave it for a flake leading to a ledge on the left, belay. Here starts the “Z”, which goes up the overhanging face of the Grand Dru by a series of slabs, cracks and a flake hand traverse. Belay on a small step, (often snow covered) overlooking the drop into the N couloir. There remains just one pitch, which can be troublesome, the “bent” chimney, (often iced up,) protected by a fixed, knotted rope, well back into the depths of the chimney. Climb it by chimneying, or jamming, or by whatever method, with or with out the rucksack. The second part of the chimney, after the elbow bend, is climbed using a flake for handholds.
End of the difficulties.

Descent of the Grand Dru, by the SE side

Follow some ramps on the Charpoua side, exposed, to come back progressively to the left in about 100m of down climbing. Reach the rings of the first abseil, under a little pinnacle with a boulder on top. The abseils lead down to the glacier, the abseil points always being to the left, (looking outwards.) Careful, however, with the last abseil, a full 50m, which puts you onto the glacier. There is a real risk of getting the ropes jammed. Perhaps take an intermediatary abseil.
From the top of the glacier, there is one more abseil to pass the bergschrund, (difficult to see the slings under the snow and rocks.)
Descend the glacier on its true right side until you reach your approach tracks which went towards the starting ledge.


• Easy climbing of 2 and 3 up to the Flammes de Pierre ridge, from where the climbing is much harder, frequent sections of 4b to 5c, especially if you miss the best line. The climbing is strenuous and sustained, though with lots of ledges on the Petit Dru, more exposed for the Grand Dru.
• The main difficulty is finding the best way. There is not much gear in place and at each ledge there may be a number of chimneys or cracks to choose from, some maybe blocked with snow or ice.
• Retreat is difficult after the gap between the Drus. Make sure the weather is stable.
• According to the hut warden, less than 8 parties have managed the route in guidebook time (11 to 13h) in the last 4 years.

Sensitive areas
There are sensitive areas on this route. Please refer to the map.


Approach :ice axe, crampons, 2 Ice screws.
Climb : 2×50 m rope, 5 quickdraws, 6 slings, friends and nuts.
Perhaps rock shoes, (especially for the Petit Dru.)


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