After a pleasant & scenic walk to the Refuge Pointe Percee, we were treated to a variety of local produce for dinner including an oozing Reblechon and strong local prune liquor…then to a superb slow sunset show…
After a basic breakfast a steady walk up through the interesting lower limestone paving slabs and scree leads to the base of the main bulky ridge which forms the classic recognisable line of the Arete du Doigt.
The lower slabby entrance pitches offer reasonably easy climbing at grades of 3-4 with fairly spaced bolt runners and bolted belays. This section finished naturally at the short ascent to the Doigt itself which offers some more technical moves towards the summit before a good bolt anchor provides the descent on the Arve Valley side and the beginning of the next chapter of this charismatic climb.
The ridge now narrows even more to form this superb hanging watershed with pleasant easy but exposed ridge climbing to access the steeper, harder upper headwall starting with the tough 5c+ pitch. This offers a few tricky moves with no protection to access the first bolt on the pitch and then fine sustained 5c climbing up the wall, corner and then airy but easy step right out on to the edge again near the top.
A link pitch provides a bit of route finding, thin climbing and superb exposure over the north face to access the steep final wall which is heavily bolted and thus mostly climbed at A0 instead of the 6c free option. Here we were intrigued to see a wallcreeper to add to the already productive bird watching trip with various Bearded Vulture sightings.
The aid pitch is straightforward, for the strong and those good at frigging, and leads to a lovely easy final summit ridge section and the superb panorama featuring panoramic views of surrounding mountain ranges including the Mont Blanc Massif, Chablais, Fiz & Beaufortain.
A great summit and well enjoyed before the equally enjoyable descent of the intricate, but well marked, descent of the Voie Normale was taken leading all the way back to celebratory tea & cakes at the Refuge Base Camp and chat with the guardian about other routes to come back for next time…