May 25th 2008

Tour Ronde - Rebuffat Gully

The Tour Ronde is a great climb for those wishing to acclimatize on short routes within close distance to the Helbronner lift. Apart from its north face and normal route, you wont find it overcrowded which is more than can be said for its neighbouring climbs on the Tacul East face. The Rebuffat gully climbs an obvious line of ice, snow and mixed sections that brings you to the top of the north face and within about 25 mins form the summit itself. There are also about a million bolted belays along the route for some reason meaning that you can retreat back down the route to your skis.

The Rebuffat Gully, photo © Gavin Pike

You can either approach from the Helbronner or from the Midi. If you are on skis then they are about equidistant to be honest. If on showshoes you are going to be better off from Helbronner

As usual we discovered that what looked like a nice line of snow and ice was in fact just loose snow and slushy ice ontop of slabby rock. However being the end of May its what you would expect really. I can imagine though that under a nice covering of ice this route would be incredibly quick. It took us quite a while longer as each pitch was incredibly delicate climbing often running it out on micro wires and other such confdence inspiring pro!

The climb

After a quick snow slope up over the bergshurnd you start with the dificulties. As mentioned above the conditions we found it in were very different from normal winter conditions so expect to see alot more ice when you head up there. In any case there are a few options here. You can either go up right and hit some steepish 85 degree ice, or head over to the left hand side where you will encounter some mixed.

Gavin Pike leading on the second pitch

Gavin Pike leading on the second pitch

You normally follow on up through the ice falls just above in the previous photo. However as you can see conditions were a little thin on them so we took a mixed chimney variant on the left hand side

Gavin Pike seconding up the chimney

Gavin Pike seconding up the chimney

Up onto the third pitch which is an easy 55m snow slop with a short 5m wall of 80 degree ice. Once again there are lots of obvious bolted belays so you can keep moving fast here.

Photo © Gavin Pike

The fourth and fifth pitches took a while as there was basically no pro, no ice, and just slabby rocks underneath. Once again though under normal conditions this should be a fast romp as it isnt steep (60 degrees) and so you can just run up the ice

Gavin Pike on the fourth pitch

Gavin Pike on the fifth pitch

The sixth pitch is a little trickier as it involves a short chimney which again can be by passed on the right if there is ice. Straight after this you should be looking for an exit onto the ridge. Once on the ridge you find yourself on the north face and can then quickly keep going to the top.

Of course you can always bivi at the summit providing you with some fantastic scenery

The Aiguille Blanche du Peuterey under the full moon

The South Face of the Mont Blanc and its satellites under the full moon

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book