Grand Darray : SE Ridge via the col des Essettes

Grand Darray : SE Ridge via the col des Essettes


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Associated waypoints

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  • Swisstopo - 46 - Val de Bagnes
  • Swisstopo - 282 - Martigny
  • Swisstopo - 1345 - Orsières
  • IGN - 3630OT - Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc



route_types: loop, return_same_way
durations: 2 day(s)
rock_types: granit
configuration: edge

quality: fine

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4c > 4b

    III    P2  E3 


elevation min/max : 1590 m / 3514 m

height_diff: +1900 m / -1900 m

height_diff_difficulties: 450 m

difficulties_height: 3120 m





The route used to be a classic traverse. However, as a result of climate change, the NNE ridge is no longer practical. Now that the SSE ridge has recently been bolted to make it much easier to descend, the outing as described is well worth doing.



From the Cabane de l'A Neuve go to the col des Essettes. The best way is to follow the path towards the Grande-Lui, then fork to the right to arrive directly below the col. Go up the scree and snow patches, then a gully for the last third, to the col. (The snow can be avoided by rocks on the left if it is too soft.)

Grand Darrey,SE ridge
Grand Darrey,SE ridge


From the col go up the snow towards the ridge for about 20m, then climb a steep, 2m corner/wall (3b,1 bolt) to the rocks above. Climb the easy angled, stepped slabs (2b) on the left, until a ledge leading back right (E). Follow this easily for 10m to a belay, (2 bolts,) at the foot of a vertical section. (This belay cannot be seen from the col.)
The next pitch is 20m at 3c/4a, with some bolts and a rusty peg, (belay with 2 bolts.) From here you can see the next bolt over on the right. Go up obliquely right for several metres to reach the crest of the ridge and continue up this to the next belay point, 2 bolts, (2b/3b.)
The rest of the ridge is fairly easy until a first, false summit, (2b/3b). Make a 20m abseil from a belay on this summit to a gap. From the gap, follow the ridge easily for 100m, (2b, until it becomes steeper and less worn. Go up obliquely to the left for 3m (orange peg) 3c, then straight up, 3c, to a bolt and possible belay.
Good climbing continues for 20m to the next bolt (3b/3c) from where the ridge becomes easier for the next 100m. Just before a second false summit, the climbing becomes more interesting. Either go straight up or slightly to the right (3b/4b) From the top of this summit you can clearly see the main summit some 30m higher up. Make a 20m abseil, (bolt and sling.) The summit is reached by easy climbing up the blocks on the ridge.


Basically by down climbing the same route, with a total of 3 abseils, 2 at end of the descent. N.B. To reach the lower of the two false summits, climb up obliquely to the left for 3m then straight up next to a corner, (1 bolt.) It is possible to make more abseils because the bolts are often equipped with rings, however the down climbing is OK.


A pleasant route in a quiet corner of the Mont Blanc range
The rock is good in the difficult sections, but looser in the easy passages.
The route has recently been re-bolted, making the steep sections safer.

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


Nuts, Friends, slings, min. 5 quickdraws.
Maybe crampons to reach the col.
50m rope should suffice


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