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Alpine Rock from the Dalmazzi Hut

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Mont Rouges du Triolet: Les Chamois Volants and La Bérésina

by Tim Blakemore

The Mont Blanc massif is known for its superb granite rock climbing. There’s no getting away from the fact though that much of it is hard. Off-width cracks and chimneys abound and often the approaches are glacial, or suffering from the retreat and polish of them (many routes in the Envers have almost impossible starts later in the season).

All is not lost however. On the ‘sunny’ side of the massif, high above the Italian Val Ferret, lies the Dalmazzi Hut and the sweeping ridges and summits of the Monts Rouges du Triolet.

The granite here is excellent, clean and friendly to climb on. There really is so much to do here that you could stay a week and just scratch the surface, but I’ve picked two of the longer, middle grade routes, both ending on a real alpine summit.

La Bérésina, Pointe 3,327m

This route gets an alpine grade of D+ with ‘obligatoire’ 5C (12 pitches)

From the hut you follow well-marked trails for about an hour to the foot of a snowfield (crampons needed). The guardian often fixes a rope to help access the first pitch and you can leave all your unwanted equipment here.

The route is partially equipped in the lower pitches and you’ll need to keep an eye out for solitary bolts. I remember romping up the first five pitches barely placing any extra gear (nuts and friends 1-3 are recommended) and dispatching the first 5C pitch with hardly any effort. The 6th pitch at 5b slowed me down, however. It’s a lonely lead and easy to lose the line so slow down, look around and place gear where you can.

Here the main feature of the route, the ‘dièdre suspendu’, is climbed in two pitches. The climbing is absorbing but very well-bolted, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere as you climb high above the Triolet Glacier and its seracs.

The final pitch or two can be simul-climbed if you are feeling confident and you arrive at a commodious summit and belay in time for lunch. The descent is by abseil.

Les Chamois Volants Pointe 3,289m

5b, 18 pitches

This route, first climbed by Patrick Gabarrou, is a monster 18 pitches! It’s given an obligatoire grade of 5b but it’s not at all sustained (the first pitch is the hardest I thought) and many of the pitches can be joined together.

The start is reached easily from the hut and later in the season can be approached in trainers. You carry everything on this route, however, so leave your toothbrush and so on in the hut!

The climb is mostly on solid rock, though there are some looser sections and towards the summit there is definitely an alpine feel to the climb.

For the descent it’s best to mountaineer over Pointe 3,289m and down that ridge until you locate the excellent routes on the SSE wall. Abseil down these and then follow marked trails (one fixed rope) to the hut.