Aiguille de Roc : Cordier pillar

Aiguille de Roc : Cordier pillar


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Associated waypoints

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  • Swisstopo - 46 - Val de Bagnes
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  • IGN - 3531ET - St-Gervais les Bains - Massif du Mont Blanc
  • IGN - 3630OT - Chamonix - Massif du Mont Blanc
  • Escursionista - ESC01 - Monte Bianco, Courmayeur



route_types: loop
durations: 2 day(s)
rock_types: granit
configuration: pillar

quality: medium


6a > 5c

    III    P3 


elevation min/max : 2700 m / 3406 m

height_diff_up: 850 m

height_diff_difficulties: 700 m




A sustained rock climb of 550m to the SE ridge, 700m to the summit of the Aiguille and 900m to the summit of the Grepon.


From the Envers des Aiguilles hut, get to the S Face of the Aiguille de Roc. The glacier has shrunk, the sketch in the Piola guidebook edition 1988, is not correct. That in the 2006 edition is OK. The route starts is in the centre of the face, gets to some ledges which are followed, trending to the left, to reach the line of the pillar and the start of the difficulties, after 150-200m of climbing.

Route 7 to 8h to reach the SE ridge and 10h for the summit of the Aiguille de Roc.

Two starts possible

No. 1 As in the 2006 Piola

Start as for «Tout Va Mal»: at the foot of an obvious corner 50m to the left of the large chimney corner which forms the right side of the cliff and 15m to the left of the chimney which cuts into the foot of the face. This start leads directly to the chimney-gully with a jammed boulder at about 100 to 150m, visible from below. 30mn from the hut.
L1 : Cross the bergschrund and climb the corner, (5c, 1 bolt) to get to a belay at 25-30m (2 bolts) on a good platform to the left. (Tout Va Mal now goes to the right.).
L2 : Go straight up the crack above (1 move of 5c) and climb a series of easy cracks (3b-4b) to reach the chimney-gully. (60m).


This start is at a characteristic corner 40m to the left of the chimney that cuts into the face.
L1 : Cross the bergschrund at the level of an open book corner to the left, (5c, 25m) Belay at 45m.
L2 : Traverse some metres to the right to reach the chimney-gully at 60m (4b).

From the bergschrund to the SE Ridge

Pass the large jammed boulder, 4b, (traces of a recent, small rockfall.) Continue upwards to the left (4b) to gain some easy steps. Climb a gully of broken rock (3b) obliquely to the left to reach the line of the pillar. The difficulties start here.

  • Climb an exposed slab (10m, 5b) directly in the line of the pillar. Then traverse a ledge to the right, climb up an obvious flake (5b) follow the cracks directly above, (5b) 40m.
  • Continue straight up a crack then to the right to reach the foot of a steep wall with 3 cracks. Either climb the crack on the left, (6a, hand jamming for 25m) or the two to the right, (5c/6a) and traverse 3m to the left (2pegs, 6a), 35m.
  • Climb a cracked slab on the left (5c), then either come back to the right above an overhang or continue to the left of the pillar before coming back to its crest, (5b and 5c). Belay at a ledge, at the foot of a granite monolith, veined with quartz.
  • Traverse 20m to the right on a ledge, Belay 3m above two pegs.
  • Continue to the right, cross a corner to reach a small rocky gully which you go up (5b), then climb a superb 20m corner (5b), 40m.
  • Continue above by a second, enclosed corner for 20m with the help of the slab on the right (5b). After the corner traverse 2m to the left, (1 move of 5c) to reach a series of cracks. Follow these cracks to the line of the spur (5b), 45m.
  • Climb in the line of the cracks (4b and 4c) to reach the foot of a steep rock step.
  • Avoid this step on the left side of the pillar (2 pegs) by climbing a strenuous, slanting crack, (5b/c). Come back to the right at the end of the pitch to reach a good terrace at the foot of a chimney crack to the right.

Take note: The route described here now follows the line of « Dièdre des Mousquetaires ». Pilier Cordier continues, (perhaps,) straight up then to the left of a large rock monolith, visible from the foot of the face.

Climb this chimney (4c, 10m) and go onto slab sloping to the left. Climb it obliquely to the right, (1 move of 5b, exposed) to reach a chimney. Climb the chimney to get to the SE ridge, 40m. The corner straight up to the left is more difficult (2 abandoned nuts). One joins the SE ridge to the right of the large rock monolith.

From here it is possible to start the descent by an abseil line down the E face, where you join Tout Va Mal.

SE ridge of the Aiguille de Roc

  • From the top of "Dièdre des Mousquetaires", go to the end of the ledge on the right to reach an abseil point, descend 2m, traverse 1m to the right, climb a crack for 1m, (1move of 6a or 5b/A0) to reach a good terrace to the right, 15m.
  • Straight up by a crack system (4b), a little to the left and come back to the right to a series of terraces and walls. (Bivouac with snow at the start of the season,)
  • Take the easiest line up these terraces and walls, (150m) to rejoin the crest.
  • Climb a steep, 20m crack, slightly to the left (4c) exit to the right to make a belay at the foot of a red rock needle.
  • Avoid the summit of this monolith by traversing to the right, making a balance move, (5m, 5c), continuing to the right to climb a corner which brings you back to the crest.
  • Continue up the crest to the foot of the final step, which is cut by a deep chimney.
  • Reach the terrace at the foot of this chimney, either directly by a corner or by a detour on the ridge to the right and a magnificent traverse from right to left, (4c).
  • Climb directly up the chimney (5b, exposed, awkward with a sac,) exit to the right to reach a belay 10m below the summit.
  • Slab climbing, (5c) to the summit. (Possible to haul the sacs from the summit.)


Three options:
- After regaining the SE Ridge abseil down the E face of the Aiguille de Roc (18 abseils, 2-3h);
- By the normal route of the Aiguille de Roc (a mixture of down climbing and abseils);
- By continuing upwards to the Grépon, traversing Grepon by the normal route and descending the Nantillons glacier.


  • III/TD for the route alone
  • IV/TD+ if linked with the Grépon.
  • The new abseil line "Histoire d'eau" could provide a comfortable means of escape.
  • Faces S, so dries quickly.
  • The Cordier Pillar is the SSE angle of the Aiguille de Roc. 550m high, it butts against the SE ridge (of the Aiguille de Roc.) If you continue to the top of the Aiguille, there is a 700m height gain. By then traversing over the Grepon you end up doing one of the major outings in the massif.
  • The route still remains with nearly no bolts and requires you place your own protection and belays.

The climbing is sustained, especially for the 350m on the pillar. Some of the slab climbing is exposed, but never extreme in difficulty. The crux pitch is the 20m hand jam crack, (avoidable.)

Bivouac possible below the foot of the pillar and on numerous terraces on the SE ridge. Availability of water depends on the season.

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


3 – 4 pegs, abseil tat, complete set of nuts and friends up until 3.5, doubling up on the mid sizes (1-2).


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