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Trio Finds ‘Hearts of Giants’ on Dent du Geant New Route

Dent du Geant (right) on the Mont Blanc massif showing Coeurs de Geants (ED). The pinnacle’s name means “giant tooth.” [Photo] Lindsay Griffin

On June 29, Dent du Geant (4013m), a crooked protrusion near the Col du Geant in the Mont Blanc massif skyline, gained a new route upon its seldom-visited northwest face. Christopher Baud, Brice Bouillanne and Jonathan Charlet climbed roughly 10 pitches over 560 meters to reach the summit.

The northwest face consists mainly rock, but because the circa 380-meter face is relatively short, it has been thought of as an undesirable objective unless very dry, a rarity at such high altitude. The face’s first recorded ascent was completed in 1981 by Italians Stefano Di Benedetti and R. Luigi, who gave their line a grade of TD, describing the route as mostly icy rock. Their line’s exact location is obscured from memory by the passing of time.

Baud, Bouillanne and Charlet took the first cable car of the day from Chamonix to reach the top of the Aiguille du Midi and began an elaborate approach to Dent du Geant, crossing the Vallee Blanche and the Geant Glacier. They then ascended a long ridge northwest of their objective, climbing to the 3622-meter Col Superieur de la Noire. This line of approach was the same taken by Thomas Maischberger, Heinrich Pfanni and Franz Zimmer in 1900. That year, the trio made the first ascent of the north ridge along the left side of the face, a climb completed without artificial aid.

From the Col Superieur de la Noire, Baud, Bouillanne and Charlet descended into the glacial basin beneath the Geant, reaching the base around 10 a.m. The trio climbed a line of weakness on unexpectedly high-quality rock, encountering sustained M5 drytooling. They gave their line a difficulty of ED and descended from the summit by making three rappels on bolted anchors off the southeast face of the Geant.

Halfway up the face the trio climbed through a large, heart-shaped overhang for which they dubbed their new route Coeurs de Geants, meaning “hearts of giants.” The name also stands as a memorial for three fallen French alpinists: Baud’s brother, Edouard, Maxime Belleville and Gregory Costa, all three of whom died in the mountains in the last 10 years.

Sources: Lindsay Griffin, The Mountain Encyclopedia,