Arête du Doigt, Pointe Percée 2752m

topo arete du doigt
Our route is in blue, taking the north east ridge to the summit
pointe percée
Pointe Percée as seen from the Chamonix side

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.

arete du doigt 1
Col des Annes, where we parked the car

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.

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Pointe Percée, with the arête du Doigt taking the left-hand skyline

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)

arete du doigt pointe percee
We weren’t the only ones on the trail
arete du doigt pointe percee
Just like a glacier, these rock formations on the approach had big crevasses that you certainly wouldn’t want to fall in to

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.

arete du doigt pointe percee
The Arête du Doigt follows the sky-line from left to right. You can see the two climbers just above of centre
arete du doigt pointe percee
Emma on the first pitch of Voie du Trou
arete du doigt pointe percee
Emma heading up pitch 4 (4a) to the foot of the Doigt (the small summit a third of the way up the ridge)
arete du doigt pointe percee
Me abseiling off the Doigt (20m) having climbed to the summit via P5 (4b)
arete du doigt pointe percee
Moving along the ridge after the Doigt on P7 (4b)
arete du doigt pointe percee
Emma on P8 (4b) with the view down to Lac Passy and the Mont Blanc massif in the distance

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.

arete du doigt pointe percee
The crux pitch

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.

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Looking back at Emma after P11 (5b)
arete du doigt pointe percee
Looking back at Emma and the ridge below after P11 (5b)
arete du doigt 22
Summit of Pointe Percée

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.

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Emma descending the voie normale
arete du doigt 25
Traffic on the descent

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

 

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