Jul 28, 2013

Cordier Pilier on Grand Charmoz

Talking about classic climbs is Chamonix is hard, but the Cordier Pillar on Grand Charmoz would be on that list

It status as a 5c/TD Climb and as it says in the topo "Superbe escalade dans une ambiance très montagne" isn't anything else than true!

The climbers of G. Addison, P. Cordier, T. Fagard, S. Jouty made the first ascent 1970, on the 6th of July. Patrick Cordier, born in 1946, was origin from Fontainebleau but soon moved to the Alps and became one of the most known climbers in his generation

In 1977, he became a founding member of the Independent Company of Mont Blanc Guides. Now Doctor Cordier, from 1977, he worked as an instructor for the Ecole National de Ski et Alpinisme ENSA, in Chamonix He was sadly killed in a motorbike accident 1996, on his was to Provance. But he put up a lot of big routes and the Cordier Piliar is one of them

Sadly thought its slowly falling apart and today it's a run between the stones and rocks coming down. Making the approach and the first pitches of climbing very interesting. Like a zone of war!

So an early start is to recommend and at 06:15 we stood waiting to be in the first bin up to aig du Plan with the plan to stay in the refuge du Plan after our climb, giving us a full day to complete the climb. Turned out to be a very good idea

A 1.30h approach took us to the base of the route, the whole area was very quiet but big craters in the snow said that there was things going on now and then. A couple of other teams was on the not recommended route on the left, actually climbing in the most exposed situation you could be in, under constant treat of rock fall!

On the way...

We quickly racked up and I started the journey up the first pitch, whit the first section on a very nice flake traverse out left. But soon I found the olds very loose and a lot of scares on the rock, covered in white dust, and it wasn't chalk:-)

Bomb scares...


After the first three pitches the climbing got better and I started to relax a bit since we now would be out of reach from the stones falling down the colouir on our left. The only issue now was that the people on the left of us had decided to traverse in on our route, apparently giving up their "rock party"...and I understand them!

But now the going was suddenly very slow in progress and I soon saw the chances of reaching the summit gone...

But, luck was with us and one of the teams climbed wrong and went off route, the next one was aiming the same way but on the question of if that would be right or wrong I had to tell them that the right way would be out left and not direct up. Which looked much harder. So we still had them front but then the leader made the pitch a little to long and when realizing this I could head off, making a short one, bring my partner up and make one more short pitch and suddenly we was first.

Losing a little more then an hour still felt a little bad but we still had a chance

In general the day was perfect, a little clouds now and then made the temp a little lower and also on this side of the wall the sun don't hit so early, giving us shade until the afternoon

The higher you climb the easier the climbing gets, with only one or two difficult moves on every pitch, making it more like a boulder route

In front at last
A lot of dihedrals

And with all the anchors in place, slings everywhere, it's like bouldering in a junk yard in that way. But, still a good route, don't get me wrong!!

Arriving on the big ledge after the first 15 pitches its easy to understand way the lower part is under treats of falling rocks, everything is loose. If you find a solid rock that stay in place when you pull on it, don't let it go!

But it's just a short section so nothing to worry about. Just get it over with, because the upper section, it's great!

Again we was covered in clouds but since the forecast had given us 95% of sun and no Orage. We didn't hesitate to continue, specially now with our turn around time at 16:00 still 2 hours away. We would easily reach the summit!

At 15:15 we found it, the summit ridge, after less then 7 hours climbing, which would have been less then six if we would have missed the cueing.

A fifteen minutes enjoying rest on the summit got us in rappelling mode. Which we decided to do down the regular route if we would have the other party's under us. Also I think it's a little bit quicker?!

Le sommet!

A 2hours rappel party took us down to the glacier again, and suddenly we was back in the war again. I found myself hiding under my back pack with the smell of gunpowder in the air, very interesting indeed!

When the 2minutes inferno stopped, we hurried our boots on, ended up in a new inferno, waited it out again, the 2minutes shooting, and then made a run out and away from the wall...back to safety again

And to a great dinner and evening at the refuge

An other excellent day in the mountains...

Vuiew over Cham valley



Voie Cordier, nr 128

2*50m rope, it's accually possible to rappel the whole route on a single 60m but would be slow. Just a single 50if you walk the glaciér Natillions down.

5-8QD's, selection of stoppers, set of Green-Red Aliens, 0.75-4.0 Camalot with extra of mid size cams. Some pitons en route. All belays in place

More info on camp to camp

Approach to Grand Charmoz from Plan



//Hunden har insikt, hunden har minnen - Finare än människors bleka sinnen



  1. Hello
    Nice remembering for me.
    I was on the first ascent. Patrick lead the route all the way with Thierry Fagard as second. I was leader of the second rope with Gary as second.
    Gary was a Canadian from Calgary, he left Chamonix some time after, and I never had news of him after. Thierry is still living, I heard today of him by a friend, Jean Afanassieff, he is visiting me on my home in the south of France. As you know Patrick is dead in a motorcyle accident.
    But even if I had not to find the route it was quite difficult for me. Six month before I had my left foot frozen in the first winter ascent of the north face of Col du Plan, with Patrick. When we made the Charmoz ascent I had still a dry gangrene at my foot, with big dressings (pansements), and I had to climb in winter mountain shoes, not climbing shoes like the others. It was not the same play ! Thierry had to gave me a little aid on some passages, as the big crack on the second part of the route. It was four month later that the dead part of my frozen and gangrened toe (the big one) falled down. I am still suffering a bit of it when the weather is very cold.
    So many years later, I think it was quite crazy for me to made this ascent in so surprising conditions !
    But anyway I remember it as a very nice climbing.
    Sylvain Jouty

    1. Cool! Thanks for your comment, very interesting reading! I hope you´r still ¨on the rocks¨ and not in to much pain from the frostbite!?
      Sincerely/ Krister