High Mountain Guides / Gallery / Chamonix Mountaineering / Frendo Spur (D+ / III 4 1200m) North Face Aiguille du Midi


Frendo Spur (D+ / III 4 1200m) North Face Aiguille du Midi

John at the Plan en route to the Midi North Face


Aiguille du Midi North Face

Line of the Frendo Spur marked in red

Early section of the Frendo Spur

Note the amount of snow on the ledges compared to the view of the face from below in previous photo

High on the rock section as the Alpenglow starts....


Alpenglow on the West Face of the Aiguille du Plan

Seen from high on the Frendo Spur

Short & steep (A0!!) pitch high on the Frendo rock section


Excellent Bivvi site on the Frendo Spur

Top of the rock section, straight on to the snow next morning. A cold autumn night ahead!

Frendo Snow Arete

Good snow conditions on the snow arete 3/4 of the way up the Midi North Face

Midi North Face Ice Field

Traversing to access the 'Right of Rognon' finish on the Frendo Spur

Right of Rognon Finish on Frendo Spur

Tough glacier ice with occassional patches of better snow ice...

John on the Superb icy finishing groove of the Frendo Spur

Aiguille du Midi North Face, Chamonix, September 2010

Good Snow Conditions on the Frendo Spur, July 2013

Lots of teams enjoying dry rock and good stiff snow this morning on the Frendo Spur. Teams climbed the face in a day from the Refuge Plan de l'Aiguille or with a bivvy at the top of the rock section. All teams were finishing the face left of the final rognon.

Final Café Before Starting - Pleasant Start to a Big North Face!

Good conditions on the North Face of the Midi 11/8/13. Dry Rock on the lower rock buttress of the Frendo and a snowy upper section.

Martin Steps on to the Slab Above the Rateau de Chevre

The lower crux on the Frendo rock section and a key passage between the lower ramps and reaching the crest of the buttress. Awkward climbing with an overly heavy pack!

British Mountain Guide Neil Johnson Approaches the Fine Soaring Corners Of the Upper Frendo Rock Buttress

This is really where the sustained good quality granite rock climbing starts on the Frendo

The Tough But Very Short Overhanging Corner Pitch on the Upper Frendo Rock Buttress

Apparently this pitch can be avoided by a groove on the right but I have climbed it on every ascent of the Frendo. It's good sport and provides a bit of training for frigging on future harder north faces!

Glorious Evening on the Superbly Situated Bivi at the Top of the Frendo Rock Buttress

This bivi site is literally right at the top of the rock climbing and next morning you step on to the famous curving snow arete. There are good flat sleeping sections for at least half a dozen climbers and plenty of snow for melting. Fast teams can obviously climb the face in a day - but this bivi is one of the best bits of the route and allows an unhurried ascent of the rock and stiff frozen snow first thing next morning for the upper face. Perfect!

The Last Midi Telepherique of the Day Cruises up The North Face at Dusk


The Final Rays of Dusk Sunlight Brush the Frendo Bivi

Whilst the Chamonix Valley is shrouded by low lying cloud down below

Stepping off the Bivi Ledge and on to the Famous Frendo Snow Arete

Good snow conditions at 0630, especially with an existing track in place

The First Ice Pitch Above the Snow Ridge - Working Left of the Rognon

A good but thin cover of stiff snow often gave the fine combination of crampons & axe placements in snow but solid ice screws close to hand for protection.

Classic Mixed Terrain Near the Top of the Midi North Face

The snow ridge below snakes down to the bivi site right at the top of the rock buttress

Martin Enjoying Great Snow & Ice Conditions & About to Top out on the Frendo Spur

With the Chamonix / Argentiere Basin Peaks behind and the big peaks of the Swiss Valais Alps beyond including the Matterhorn in the far distance extreme right

Team Frendo Patrol - Relaxed After Topping Out Thanks to the Ease of Descent!

From L-R, Rob, Martin, Matt & Neil. Thanks to all for a great team ascent and extremely enjoyable mountain adventure

Team Topping out on the Frendo Spur - Late July 2014

Snowy conditions on the upper north face for mid summer

Comfortable Bivvi at the Plan de l'Aiguille - Frendo & Midi North Face Beyond

This strategy of bivvying at the Plan and climbing the route in a day means light packs can be taken for the ascent. This is a more committing style than bivvying en route - but much pleasanter for the actual climb with light packs and bringing the overall ascent time well down. It does mean the lower rock section will probably be climbed in the dark - offering route finding difficulties but meaning the upper snow section is still climbed early in the day.

The 'Rateau de Chevre' - Key Passage of the Lower Rock Section - Climbed Before Dawn

A steep & slightly balancy section on good rock which provides a key passage through to the upper central rock buttress

The Top of the Central Section of the Rock Buttress

This short horizontal ridge section leads in to the base of the fine soaring corner which marks the start of the upper buttress

Snowy Conditions Generally - But Good Dry Rock on the Frendo Crux Corner Pitch

Here Peter enjoys the fine steep moves up through the cracked & pegged walls of this key to the upper rock buttress. This corner is situated just to the climbers left of the main ridge line. There is a very fine & impressive soaring corner line just to the right of the buttress too - the normal route does not go up that although it looks good - but hard!

Good Snowy Mixed Climbing In the Grooves of the Upper Rock Buttress

This section of enjoyable grooves links the fine lower corner with the steep upper wall to gain the top of the rock buttress

The Steep Upper Wall Can be Climbed in at Least 3 Different Ways!

The normal option takes a very short but very steep micro roof capped groove with several aid moves. There is however a steep crack just to the right of that and right again there is a traverse below a pegged wall with a committing step round in to a loose flakey steep groove. All of these options lead to easy mixed ground leading to a shelf terrace. From here a short descent can be made or a more direct line up the buttress to the first of the excellent bivvi sites and start of the snow section.

Snowy Mixed Climbing Conditions in the Fine Upper Grooves of the Rock Buttress

These grooves lead to a little col with the 3 aforementioned options to pass the steep wall above to access the upper buttress. On this occasion big boots & 1 axe were used to pass the mixed sections. Crampons may have been handy but rock boots were a definite hindrance as one team were finding out. Protection was generally good throughout.

Starting the Famous & Beautiful Snow Arete on the Upper Frendo Spur

There are very good bivvi sites just below this snow section at the top of the rock buttress

Snowy Rising Traverse Linking Snow Ridge With the Upper Ice Pitch

In good conditions this section can provide enjoyable moving together with rock protection readily available and several bolt belays / runners.

The Final Ice Pitches of the Frendo Spur - Left of Rognon

The top of the face is near - and one of the best descents of any North Face in the Alps!

The Frendo Spur Reaches the Midi - Plan Arete Near the Midi Station

All that remains is the final exposed snow ridge to the station & the easiest North Face descent in the Alps!