Grand Capucin
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Grand Capucin

12591 feet/3838 meters
Haute Savoie (Mont Blanc), France, Europe

Last update: April 15th, 2002
   © Copyright by Rahel Maria Liu


Grand Capucin

Grand Capucin

(Picture credit to: © Jistas )

Overview


The Grand Capucin is an extraordinary red granit tower in the Mont Blanc Group . It has an E face rising steeply out of the Géant Glacier. It is situated at the end of the east side of the Mont Blanc du Tacul . You can't miss it when you go from the Aiguille du Midi to the Rifugio Torino. It is a wonderful rock obelisk on the glacier du Géant. Particularly noticeable are the rows of overhangs which at one time suggested it was unclimbable, but Bonatti found a winding route which goes over some of the overhangs, but in general works its way up between the great roofs; the climbing is quite literally, geometrically vertical, something quite exceptional on granite. Although its faces are not higher than 490 m and although the mountain can be seen only from the summits around, it has been interesting for rock climbers since 40 years.

After the first climbing through the E-face, done by Walter Bonatti and L. Ghigo from 20th to 23rd of July 1951 (with the equipment of the 50ies ... respect!!), the Bonatti-route has been the goal of extreme climbers for a long time. 1981 and later, there have been arranged very difficult sport climbing routes, which are the attraction to the climbers today. Besides the "Triple Directe", it is especially the route "Voyage selon Gulliver", which is interesting.

The first ascent to the summit was undertaken by E. Augusto, Adolphe and Henri Rey and L. Lanier on 24. July 1924.


Routes Overview

1. Bonatti-route:
  • VIII-, mostly VII with VII+ (passages), ED+, 6-12 h ( Eberlein )
  • ED, 490 hm, 10-20 h ( Rébuffat )
2. O Sole Mio (S-face):
  • VII+, mostly VI and VII. Passages VII-. ED. 280 hm, 6 h ( Eberlein )
3. Swiss route (Voie des Suisses):
  • VII, A 0 (1 passage), mostly V+ and VI. ED-. 280 hm, 6 h ( Eberlein )
4. Souire de l'Eté:
  • VII, A 2, mostly VI and VI+. ED. 280 hm, 6 h ( Eberlein )
5. Voyage selon Gulliver:
  • VIII-, A 0 (swinging traverse), mostly VI+ and VII. ABO-. 300 hm, 6-8 h ( Eberlein )
6. Flagrant Delire:
  • VI+, A 4, mostly A 2 and A 3, ED+, 400 hm (you should plan a bivuoac!) ( Eberlein )
7. Elixier d'Astaroth:
  • VII+, A 3, mostly VI and VI+, ED+, 400 hm ( Eberlein )
8. Directe des Capucines:
  • VII+, mostly VI+ adn VII-, passages A 0 or A 1 at the end, ED+, 400 hm, 10 h ( Eberlein )
9. Triple Directe:
  • VIII, mostly VII, ABO, 400 hm, 10 h ( Eberlein )
10. Descent:
  • abseiling down, mostly through the route "O Sole Mio"

Getting There

1. To the Grand Capucin (Cirque Maudit):

  • a. You can come from the Ref. Cosmiques.
  • b. You can come from the Rif. Torino.
2. To the Ref. Cosmiques:
  • In order to reach the hut, you need about 1/2 h from the Aig. du Midi. If you leave the cable car station via the bridge, you go to the Southsummit. On the firn ridge, you go down with SE-direction to an even ridgeplatform; then turn right to the S and SW-direction below the S-face of the Aig. du Midi. Pay attention to crevasses!
  • You reach the Aig. du Midi with cable car from Chamonix.
  • You reach Chamonix by train (from Martigny/CH or Geneva or Annecy - TGV to St. Gervais), bus (from Annecy, Geneva, Grenoble, Courmayeur, Aoste and Turin) or car from Geneva or Martigny (Switzerland) via Vallorcine, the Col des Montets and Argentière.
3. To the Rif. Torino
  • You reach the hut directly with the cable car from Entrèves/Courmayeur (Italy).
  • You can reach the hut directly also with the Helbronner cable car from the Aiguille du Midi (to Aiguille du Midi with the cable car from Chamonix ). Pay attention: The Helbronner cable car, traversing the Géant glacier, is mostly closed.
  • Or you go on foot from the Aiguille du Midi over the glacier du Géant (3 h): From the foot of the S-face of the Aig. du Midi you go on the almost even glacier to the Pointe Lachenal, turn left (E) to the glacier valley below the rugged E-face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul. You go along this E-face of the Tacul and the Pointe Adolphe Rey in order to loose only little height. Now you turn to the ESE to the Col des Flambeaux. From here in a few minutes to the Ref. Torino. It is a very beautiful glacier walk with 200 hm ascent. Difficulty: F.
  • You reach Courmayeur through the Mont Blanc tunnel from Chamonix.
  • You reach Chamonix with train, bus or car from Geneva or Martigny (Switzerland).
4. To the Cirque Maudit
  • a. You reach the Cirque Maudit from the Aig. du Midi or the Ref. Cosmiques: From the foot of the S-face of the Aig. du Midi you go on the almost even glacier to the Point Lachenal, turn left (E) to the glacier valley below the rugged E-face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul. You go along this E-face of the Tacul and the Pointe Adolphe Rey in order to loose only little height. Then you go either with a big detour to the northface of the Tour Ronde or quite directly up to the Col de Trident and the Cirque Maudit. Attention: Here are more crevasses!
  • b. You reach the Cirque Maudit from the Rif. Torino: From the Col du Géant near the Rif. Torino: You traverse the Col des Flambeaux and descent the glacier with direction to the Mont Maudit. Then you go along the Aig. de Toule and the northface of the Tour Ronde to the Cirque Maudit which is built by the Arête de la Brenva, the Mont Maudit and the Mont Blanc du Tacul.

When To Climb

  • Summer

  • Red Tape

  • There are no permits or fees required. There is no seasonal closure. Only the Helbronner Cable Car is mostly closed because of ecological reasons. There is a big parking place in Chamonix near the Cable Car ground station.

  • Camping and/or Accomodation

  • There is a campingplace in Chamonix .

  • Mountainhuts
    1. Ref. des Cosmiques (3613 m)

    The Ref. des Cosmiques is situated on a shoulder between the Col du Midi and the SW-ridge of the Aig. du Midi (Cosmiques-ridge).
    2. Rif. Torino (3322m/3375m)

    The Rif. Torino has 2 huts, the lower and older one and the upper, new one. Both huts are connected by a tunnel.

  • the lower old one
  • the upper new one
      according to Eberlein :
    • with 170 beds
    • serviced from June to September
    • Tel. 00390/165/844034 (expensive)
    • internet: Rif.Torino.new

  • Mountain Conditions and General Information
    1. Weather Information: 2. General Information: 3. Train (Chamonix Valley):
      0033/450 53 1298 
      0033/8 36 35 35 35 
      0033/450530702 (train station Chamonix) 
      internet: http://www.cff.ch/
    4. Bus (Chamonix Valley):
    0033/450 53 0555 
    0033/450 53 0115
    5. Cable Cars:
    • Aiguille du Midi: 0033/450/533080 
    • Courmayeur: Tel. 00390/165.846658, Fax 00390/165.842347

    Maps

  • Institut Géographique National 
  • Books

  • Hartmut Eberlein: Mont-Blanc-Gruppe. DAV-Gebietsführer. 9th ed. Munich 2000.
    ISBN 3-7633-2414-3
    (to order at
  • amazon.de )

  • Gaston Rébuffat: The Mont Blanc Massif. The 100 Finest Routes. London 1996
    ISBN 1-898573-03-4
    (to order at amazon.de or at amazon.com )