With big limitations on free time impending there was just time to squeeze in a day out in the mountains. Gary has recently moved to Chamonix and was keen to get out up high for a bit of acclimatisation/climbing.
As I needed to be within phone range & easy 'turn-around' we opted for a combination of two short, easy routes near to the Aiguille du Midi cable car the classic 'guides-combo' of the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal followed by the Cosmiques ridge back up to the Midi station. The Pointes Lachenal lie a short walk across the Col du Midi, and a short 40º slope takes you up on to the ridge for some spectacular views:
A short scramble over the first summit followed by a short abseil and snow ridge lead to the start of the only 'difficulties' on the route - a short rock step with a few big loose blocks to negotiate:
Gary works his way up the open groove to the main summit:
A quick pause to catch our breath on the main top and then it was off again, with a short descent back to the Col du Midi and a quick trudge over to the Abri SImond at the start of the Cosmiques ridge. Well known as a high altitude queue, the ridge was relatively quiet today, and we gave a trio in front of us a good head start before setting off in pursuit.
On the first high point of the ridge we took a variation which avoids the abseil with a lower traverse at the end of which we encountered that rarest of beasts - a Chamonix Guide who asked if we wanted to pass his (slower) party - I have now seen it all!!
The rest of the ridge passed without great incident, pleasant scrambling with one stiff pull at the crux rock wall (shame about the drilled-out crampon slot for footholds).
Whilst never particularly challenging the Cosmiques ridge offers a more interesting way back up to the Midi station (compared to the snow ridge) with the benefit of finishing directly on one of the viewing platforms!
Unfortunately the weather is now set fair but i cannot get out & make the most of it - frustrating to say the least!