Forbes Arete, Aiguille Du Chardonnet.

The Aiguille du Chardonnet, The Forbes Arete is the left hand skyline ridge.

Summer alpinism is here!! Long, sweaty approaches, manky snow conditions and rainy afternoons.  Still its all good fun and with the longest of days upon us getting out for a classic alpine route seems to good to pass up.  My original plan was to solo the Migot Spur  but with high temps forecasted I didn’t fancy A) walking across a glacier by myself or B) climbing on a north face.  Luckily my good buddy Ben O’Connor Croft (of Petit Dru North Face fame) was able to make it out so we headed up to the Albert Premier hut  for a Sunday night bivying on the rocks….. It was good to have a good old catch up with Ben watching the sun go down and reminiscing about previous routes and failures.  ben wasn’t overly impressed with the rack that I had brought which consisted of, 1 green pacific link cam, 1 120cm sling and a 15cm Ice screw.  I had only brought 65m of 6mm kevelar for the rappels and to be honest never really thought we’d need any of it for the actual route.   We had decided we were going to set off for the Forbes Arete at about 4am and settled down for a windy sleepless night.

Le Rack

Le Cord. 6mm Static kevlar. Not ideal for either crevase rescue or leading but works well as an abseil rope. Make sure you use a thinner prusuik loop though!

We got up and started the long tedious hike over to the bottom of the Chardonnet in the still slushy, non-refrozen snow, which was a bit of a chore.  We got the start of the route and whipped the assesory cord off and started symul-soloing the route.  For the most part its pretty straightforward with small cruxy steps here and there and the odd awkward down climb.  We got to within a couple of hundred metres of the summit and lost the route slightly.  There was still alot of wet snow everywhere and one patch of black ice that needed crossing (Bens crampons where pretty blunt) so we made the decision to whip the shoelace out and put in a quick pitch.  It was all a bit spicy and funky for a few moments with the minimal rack but we were soon back on track and heading over to the summit.

Earlier on on the ridge.

Quick chill next to  the summit.

Ben going around the summit for personal reasons.

The descent was pretty straightforward.  The soft snow meant that we could more or less walk down to the first abseils, only facing in a few times on some of the steeper sections. It didn’t take us long to find the first of 4 30m rappels to get down to the col Adams Riely.

Ben on the last of 4 30m absiels.

Back to Cham Ville by 12 and feeling pretty happy about summiting the Chardonnet for the first time we ate and drank and were merry.

4 thoughts on “Forbes Arete, Aiguille Du Chardonnet.

  1. Pingback: Forbes Arete, Aiguille Du Chardonnet » Chamonix Topo

  2. I did the Forbes in 1962 and again in ’64 – fifty years ago! The second time was in the kind of conditions you describe and the guides were not taking their clients anywhere. We did not abseil on the descent.

    It was the start of our Alpine season and four of us headed for the Albert Premier as soon as we got to Chamonix, intending to traverse the Aiguille du Chardonnay next day as a warm-up exercise. Conditions were poor but, as the route was not too challenging, we ignored them. However, we were too cavalier about it and paid a terribly heavy price.

    After an uneventful ascent, I led the way down from the summit over rocky crests and snowy gullies with my novice companion on the rope. The other two, who has bags of experience in the Alps and the Andes, followed.

    We had just descended a snowy couloire, when suddenly there was a cry from above and one of our alpinists friends was sliding down the steep snow, braking with his ice axe. As the rope tightened he came to a halt but had meanwhile dislodged his partner who repeated the performance. So they alternated and, as they slid past us, I made an attempt to insert my ice axe into the passing coils to arrest the pair of them, but failed. They slid, as if in slow motion, gracefully, silently and desperately, until they disappeared towards where I believed the slope ran out onto the glacier. As we descended, however, the awful truth became apparent. Our companions had fallen down an ever-steepening gully and were likely to be severely injured. We struck off to call for help but it was too late. Both men died and their bodies were recovered next morning. I am aware that, had I got my axe into the rope, there might have been four dead instead of two.

    Dealing with the grieving families and the funerals, we had also to come to terms with our own role in the affair and the odd question as to why my novice and I survived where two more experienced alpinists perished; not just the technical aspects but also a question for our souls, “Why me and what am I to do as a consequence?”

    RIP Mike Gorb (ashes scattered on Aiguille de Midi) and John Jenkinson (Buried at Chamonix).

    • To John varney Only just picked up these details John Jenkinson was my cousin really appreciate your sincere commentsHope you receive this

  3. Pingback: Forbes Arête on Aiguille du Chardonnet | Alpine Exposure

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