The Cosmiques Ridge: mixed climbing and Mont-Blanc backdrop

23 June, 2020 | Reccy Guide

If you are a beginner mountaineer, or a more experienced one looking for a more relaxed climb, you might be doubting if the Chamonix Valley offers anything for you. While the multi-day and technical climbs of the Mont Blanc region are famous world-wide, the mountaineering day trips appropriate for less experienced climbers are no less  impressive. The Cosmique Ridge, a route offering views over snow-capped mountain ranges while being technically accessible, has been a favorite of the region since the first ascent of the ridge in 1911. The panoramic views rival those of longer climbing expeditions, so read on and find out if this is the adventure that you are looking for.

Who is this adventure for?

The Cosmiques Ridge is a great option for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Graded AD, it still offers a variety that will keep skilled climbers challenged and satisfied. Keep in mind that the crux is difficult for its grade, which explains why basic mixed climbing and abseiling skills are necessary and why some sections of the climb are rated PD+. This section will require a belay, but otherwise most of the ridge can be ascended moving together. Of course, you will also need to be in great physical shape.

On the Cosmiques Ridge

How to get there

From Chamonix, you will take the Aiguille du Midi lift. The cable car is an attraction in itself and was once the highest in the world, but also caused some social disruption at the time of its construction (head up to our article about the Aiguille du Midi day trip to learn more). In general, but mostly in high season, the queue for buying the lift ticket can be daunting. To avoid any disagreement or extensive waiting, you can buy the pass online yourself or ask your operator if they can take care of it for you.

The Expedition 

Once at the top of the lift, you will first need to descend to the Midi Plateau. This is a great start as it will allow you to warm-up and practice your skills at down-climbing in crampons. After the descent, you will take the tranquil hike across the Midi Plateau, offering beautiful views over the Southern, granite face of the Aiguille du Midi. The approach will take you around 30 minutes. Once you have passed the Cosmiques Hut and reached the Abri Simond bivouac hut, it will be time to start climbing towards the beginning of the ridge.

Towards the top of the Cosmiques Ridge

The mountain conditions will determine the difficulty of the climb. Early in the season, when the snow is still fresh, the ridge will be a mix of easy snow and rock climb. If the snow has melted, the difficulty will be higher. You will first walk along the ridge line then have to do two abseils before you arrive at the first crux, a section that will prove a bit more difficult. However, local guides have made things easy for you as they have drilled perfectly positioned holes for your crampons. Later, you will also have to climb a short rock wall but here again, local guides do try to make things easy for you. You will soon cross into the north face and reach the top of the ridge and the steel metal ladder leading to one of the Aiguille du Midi’s observation terraces. To add to the sense of accomplishment that you should be feeling at that point, you will be welcomed on the terrace by wide-eyed tourists admiring you for taking on one of the most classic ridges in the region. Some might even ask to have a picture taken with you, so smile and enjoy your well-deserved 15 minutes of fame!

Overall, the Cosmiques Ridge is a must do if you are in the Chamonix Valley and want to polish your skills or have a day to spare before or after a longer climb. If you are still a beginner, admiring the Mont Blanc in the distance is a certain way to boost your motivation; and this mountaineering experience on the Cosmiques Ridge might be the first step to a soon to come summit day.

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