The arête du Doigt is a classic ridge climb that takes 12 pitches along the north east ridge to the summit of Pointe Percée, the highest peak in the Massif des Aravis.
I stumbled across the route description online and the more I looked into it the more I knew this would be a a classic climb and one that I have to do. I enjoy climbing aesthetic routes and this route looked like it had beauty in abundance.
I suggested it to Emma and on Friday we set off at 07:00 from Chamonix on the 1hr30min drive to Col des Annes, above Le Grand Bornand in the Massif des Aravis.
It’s just over a 1hr hike to the Pointe Percée hut along a dirt road and then a scenic trail. The Pointe Percée dominates the view as you approach the hut.
It was already quite warm by the time we stopped at the refuge for a quick coffee. But we knew we would be mostly climbing in the shade so we weren’t in a rush. To get to the start of the ridge you follow the voie normale until you reach the foot of the north face where you follow a faint trail round to the left side over some magnificent rock formations. (1hr)
We reached what we assumed was the start of the route and blindly started following two other climbers up the route. This must be it I assumed, without checking the route description. The Arete du Doigt is 12 pitches between 3c and 5c. The first pitch is a 4a which is essentially scrambling. On reaching the first belay, I thought to myself that was a lot harder than a 4a, so when Emma reached me at the belay we decided we were on the wrong route. A quick check of the topo and yes we were on a different route, the Voie du Trou (Green line) with a first pitch of 5c. I know we were a little tired from the early start but to end up on a route which didn’t match our description at all was a bit silly. We abseiled off the first belay and eventually reached the start of our route.
After the first 9 pitches along the ridge, ranging from 3c to 4b, there are two options to get to the summit. Continue along the ridge proper and climb a steep buttress (5c, exposed crux pitch) or traverse along the north face along some easy scrambling.
I looked up at the 5c pitch and although knowing it’s well within my climbing capability I was aware of the 800m vertical airy nothingness looming below. Two eagles were circling us as we climbed the ridge, and I felt as if they were paying a little extra attention to us at this point.
I led the crux pitch, at first a little hesitantly but soon got into my groove. It’s a stunning pitch that follows various crack systems and flakes before entering a steep chimney. It ends with a delicate traverse but with good holds. Emma expertly followed and took the lead on the next pitch (5b) before the final pitch (4b) to the summit ridge.
Although ‘easy grades’ this is a committing route and the exposure is ever present the further you go. It’s well bolted although spacious at times, but the rock is first class.
We got back to the refuge and, after a cool Ice Tea, we skipped back to the car and drove back to Chamonix for pizza with big (tired) grins on our faces. What a day, what a route!
Route description: https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/53799/en/pointe-percee-arete-du-doigt