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Les Grandes Jorasses

Les Grandes Jorasses

The geo-biological characteristics of Les Grandes Jorasses make its series of pinnacles the ideal environment in which to test and hone climbing and mountaineering skills. 

Les Grandes Jorasses’ North Face in brief…

  • An Italian face at the southern end
  • An altitude of 4,208 metres
  • Several spurs such as the Walker and Croz spurs
  • Extreme difficulty
  • Edward Whymper managed to climb to the summit in 1865

 Not for the faint of heart

Whymper’s epic quest brought international renown to Les Grandes Jorasses. In 1935 the Grandes Jorasses race brought together some of the world’s most talented mountaineers: Peters and Meier, Gervasutti and Chabod and the Swiss mountaineers Boulaz and Lambert raced one another to the ridge of the summit. Peters and his acolyte truly gave the best of themselves, their rope advanced with speed and efficiency and they were the first to the top. Their closest competitors climbed two-thirds of the spur in a day. The next morning the summit of the central spur of Les Grandes Jorasses was in view.   

The men who paved the way

  1. In 1928 an Argentine glacier climber, Armand Charlet, made six attempts to climb to the summit.
  2. In 1931 Toni Schmid attempted the North Face climb without success.
  3. Heckmair, Rupilius and Drexel also climbed Les Grandes Jorasses without making it to the top.
  4. Two Germans, Rittler and Brehm, lost their lives in their attempt to climb Les Grandes Jorasses.

“ The fissure’s overhang was draped in an icy cornice, black ice glazed the cracks and the rock appeared to be blanketed with blue glass.” Frison-Roche