Climbing the Super Couloir on Mt Blanc du Tacul via its classic direct start is a must do climb for many alpinists visiting the Chamonix valley.
4 – 6 ice screws
8 quick draws
Camalots .3 – 2 with doubles on .5 – 1
Nuts 1 - 7
2 x 60m ropes
The climbing ranges from M6 - WI4. The crux of the route is the first two pitches. Depending on the conditions in the actual couloir you can also expect to find a couple of steep ice pitches higher up. When we climbed the route it was a lean winter with not allot of ice on either the direct start or inside the actual couloir. It was also hard to find reports as to the condition of the climb so my suggestion would be to simply go and look.
As the climb is East facing it is important to get an early start. We climbed the route mid winter and were still very warm in the sun early morning. Temperatures dropped very quickly as soon as the sun left the route around 11am. We were also fortunate not to have any other parties on the climb. With good snow cover you should have no problems approaching via the Midi cable car taking the first lift, skiing to the base of the route (1.5 hrs), then skiing back to Chamonix after your climb. This makes for an excellent day trip. If you plan to climb the couloir only and rap off at the end of the difficulties a fast moving party should expect to take around 5 hours to ascend (4 hours) and descend (1 hour) the route. If you plan to top out and walk back to the midi add a few more hours. Other teams on the route or a less experienced party could slow things down allot. Outside of mid winter where it would be to warm to get a late start many parties will bivy the night before allowing them to climb the first two crux pitches before the sun heats them up. This also lets you get a head start on any other parties who might be keen to climb the route.
All belays are have two bolts, with the exception of the first belay at the base of the route which is two pitons. Most are 50 – 60m apart. We pitched the first two crux pitches then climb with a mix of simu climbing and pitching for the rest of the route. Descent took approx 1 hour.