Tour Noir : N >> S traverse

Tour Noir : N >> S traverse

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Associated waypoints

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Map

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

Licence

General

activities:
durations: 1 day(s)
configuration: glacier

quality: medium

Rating

PD+  
3c > 3b

    III 

heights

elevation min/max : 2730 m / 3837 m

height_diff_up: 1100 m

height_diff_difficulties: 200 m

slope: 35°

gear

glacier_gear: glacier_safety_gear

orientations

E W S N

description

Aproach

The route starts from the Argentiere hut.

Route

From the Argentière hut, Go up the Améthystes glacier, on its true right bank, until directly below the Y couloir on the Aiguille d'Argentière. From here, go diagonally across the glacier, towards the couloir coming down from the Col Supérieur du Tour Noir. This obvious couloir, starts with a narrow gully before opening out onto broader snow slopes above.
Cross the bergschrund, (sometimes very open,) and climb the couloir, placing ice screws if necessary and taking note of the sling belays on the true right bank, which are used in case of descent. (200 m ; 35°).
From the Col supérieur du Tour Noir, you can see the way to the summit, either by the crest of the ridge on excellent rock, or to the right, which is easier if there is a lot of snow and the broken rocks are held solid by ice, (200m:easy angled, protectable with rock spikes, slings and nuts). This leads to a fore-summit, the summit is a further 20m away, reached easily by the E side of the ridge.

Descent

From the summit go due E for 15m and reach from the S the gap between the two summits. From there, descend a small gully of rotten rock for 10-20m to rejoin a ridge of loose stones, (to the E,) and descend this for 100m, being careful not to bombard those below. At the level of a vague shoulder, go to the right (S), first descending then slightly upwards to traverse some ledges below the slabs of the SE face, (about 150m below the summit -3650m approx.) Slippery rocks, sometimes verglaced. Continue traversing until the S ridge, which you reach at the level of a small gap recognizable by a little pinnacle to the left. From the gap, go down the couloir to the Tour Noir glacier at the level of the Passage d'Argentière (3620 m). It is best to keep to the true left bank of the gully to avoid the steepest and most unstable section.
After reaching the Tour Noir glacier, go along it to the left, under the crest which you have just descended, to reach the ice slopes coming down from the Col d'Argentière. Descend the true right bank, and at about 3300m go diagonally across to the true left bank to bypass a broken section of the glacier. Come back a bit to the right then straight down to join the Argentière glacier.

remarks

This traverse can be done in either direction, but it is more aesthetic to crampon up the Col Supérieur du Tour Noir couloir than to abseil down it.
The challenge of the route lies in, keeping to a good time, finding the best route and not knocking down loose stones.
You need to start early if you want the best conditions for the descent of the Tour Noir glacier, (W facing), as the rock sections can be very time consuming.

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

gear

Crampons, ice axe, helmet, some ice screws, friends, nuts, slings and a 40m rope.

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