Climbing Petit Clocher du Portalet | Etat de Choc *****
9SL | 250m | 7a (6c obl)
C. & Y. Rémy 1983, partially refurbished
Etat de Choc at the Petit Clocher du Portalet: a climbing route that can amaze and scare you. You cant help but being amazed if you see the Petit Clocher du Portalet for the first time, this impressive and mighty rock needle in the Orny area. You cant help but being amazed for the second time when you recognize the striking crack line that runs straight through the north wall. The mountain and the route are easily visible from the nearby Cabane d'Orny and inspire every seasoned alpinist and mountain guide with respect and awe.
And those who climb this steep and athletic route can get scared or even fall within a state of shock. Etat de Choc is the line at the Petit Clocher du Portalet, the crack line of the region and we personally believe the crack line in the entire Alpine region. It is in no way inferior to world-famous classics such as Astroman or Rostrum in the godfather of all crackclimbing valley, the Yosemite. Given you like clean crack climbing, Etat de Choc really offers everything that makes a perfect tour. A steep north wall on an imposing granite cone creates the alpine ambience. The continuous, obvious crack system the perfect line. The steepness the athletic climbing and the largely clean protection the adventure. On top of that you get the high-quality Chamonix granite, which can also be found at the Petit Clocher du Portalet. What more do you want!
Etat de Choc is not free. Already getting there with the heavy cams in your backpack costs a few drops of sweat. However, an aspirant for Etat de Choc must bring a solid crack climbing technique from hand- to body-size and be able to apply this technique in difficulties up to 7a. You also need solid know-how and practice in dealing with cams as well as a stable morale in order to utilize all this knowledge even in a state of shock. But no worries, the route is not that wild. However, Etat de Choc is definitely something for the experienced, advanced climber or the perfect opportunity to hire a mountain guide. The climbing is demanding and traditional. However, Etat de Choc can be protected very easily anywhere with mobile devices, and occasionally there is even a bolt.
Approach Etat de Choc I (from Champex via Cabane d'Orny)
From Champex with the chair lift to Grands-Plans and from here in about 2 hours to Cabane d'Orny, where you can spend the night and enjoy the evening before with a direct view of the route and the emerging mixture of anticipation and jitters. This variant has the disadvantage that you should catch the last chair lift down to the vally, especially if the car is in Champex. Alternatively, you can climb from the Vallon d'Arpette de Saleinaz and be independent.
From Cabane d'Orny, you descend briefly on the hut trail and on the flat glacier tongue. From there, keep right (direction SSO) to the lowest point of the moraine / glacier tongue. From there a trail leads (red dots and cairns) descending to the edge of the moraine directly at the base. 10 meters descent (brittle, sandy, helmet!) relieved by a fixed rope in a couloir, which is usually filled with snow. Traverse this (possibly ice axe), then follow the trail with easy climbing sections until you stand to the left below the Etat de Choc line.
Approach Etat de Choc II (via Vallon d'Arpette de Saleinaz)
From Praz de Fort, follow the road into Vallon d'Arpette de Saleinaz until the road ends at a forest house. From here in about 2.5 hours to the base. 20 minutes before the base you will find a great bivouac with water nearby.
L1 & L2 6b+ Recommendation: Take the start over the simple, logical terrain and bypass pitch 1 & 2 on the right. So you can save energy and the two pitches are comparatively less worthwhile. From the approach trail up into the couloir, then keep left over easy climbing to the visible belay on slings. From there, turn right and then climb back to the left, always following the simplest, logical terrain to the point below the first steep pitch (approx. 5b).
L3 6b+ First steep pitch. A bolt at the crux, cam 2 below and small cams above.
L4 6c From here it gets serious. To the left, then follow the widening crack (until fist). Tip: attach the gear (cams 0.75, 1, 2 and 3) on the right side. The rock wall on the left is blocking. There is an intermediate bolt after the crack. Follow the easy chimney to a belay on fixed slings (reinforce with cams, e.g. Cam 4)
L4 ' Short pitch of 10 meters. Belay on a good bolt and cam 0.5. This pitch can also be connected to the previous one with a 50m rope. Depicted in the topo as one pitch.
L5 7a Cruxpitch . Up to the overhang Cam # 1 and smaller, then the whole gear. The overhang looks difficult, but turns out to be rather easy. Then Squeeze-Chimney and the actual crux, switch to layback and leave the chimney. This point is secured with a bolt. Hanging belay. Tip: Take off the helmet and hang the gear around your shoulder instead of on the harness.
L6 6c Offwidth or layback (Cam 5 very helpful) to no-hands rest. Then climb the stunning double crack (cams 4, then 3, then 2) and to the right to the belay. The double crack is one of the highlights of the route. Alternatively, instead of climbing to the right to the belay, you can follow the steep crack dihedral (Cam 3 necessary, Cam 2-4 possible) and thus add the next pitch immediately. Difficulties then rise to about 7b.
L7 7a Layback the wide crack up to the bolt and continue further on to the pedestal (no hands rest). Further up and over a wall climbing section (7a) to the left. After a few meters belay in the left crack (any combination of cams 1 - 3 possible for belay construction). Alternatively right out to Ave Caesar's belay.
L8 6b+ Follow the left crack (hand to fist). After an overhang with fixed slings on the right into easier terrain. Straight up again over brittle overhang and then keep to the right about 15 m below the summit.
L9 Grade four up to the summit
Abseiling along Ave Caesar, 60m ropes particularly handy.
Beauty : ***** / *****
Protection : - / XXXXX can be very easily secured anywhere
Exposure : north
Material : 50m double rope, 10 quickdraws, sling material. Possibly ice axe for snow field crossing. Wedges are not necessary. Camalots C4 # 0.3 - 5, with # 0.75 - 4 double. Cam # 5 not a must, but gives comfort, Cam # 6 definitely not necessary. Cams # 2, 3 and 4 triple is even more comfortable and can be easily used, but twice is enough.
Advice: climbing with a backpack is practically impossible in a narrow chimney. Either hang everything on a belt or haul.
Other highlights on Petit Clocher du Portalet
Ave Caesar *****
10SL | 250m | 7c (7a obl)
D. Berthod, F. Mathey, A. Mikolajak 2003
Great route. In addition to Etat de Choc, it is probably the most frequently climbed route in the north face. The 7b+ pitch has a demanding wall climbing section (bolt protected) right at the beginning, followed by great crack climbing. The two 7C pitches ask both for finger crack climbing, the latter with a striking crux at the end on Bolts. Rumor has it that some holds got better there. The difficulties in the finger cracks may depend on the thickness of the fingers.
La guerre des nerfs ****
9SL | 250m | 7b (6c obl)
L. Abbet, F. Roduit 1982
Start from the large ledge that can be reached via simple terrain or Ave Caesar. The Crux consists of a technically very demanding 7b pitch. The heart of the route is the subsequent stunning crack dihedral, which you follow over two pitches. The bolts are placed airy, in between the crack swallows countless cams # 4. However, these are not absolutely necessary, although good for the nerves.
La Voie des Cheminées *****
6SL | 200m | 6b+ OW (6b+ obl)
First ascent unknown
A route for "aficiondos", which sees hardly any traffic! It follows the fracture system that divides the entire Petit Clocher du Portalet. Etat de Choc runs along this system on the north side and La Voie des Cheminées on the east side. This bombastic line can be seen prominently when approaching through the Vallon d'Arpette. Access is via the first pitch of Esprit du Clocher. Then La Voie des Cheminées follows one of the two off-width cracks. The right one is a bit easier and requires cams up to #5, the left one requires sizes up to #6 and even a little bigger if you really want to secure. The left variant is comparable in style and difficulty with the Monster OW at El Capitan in Yosemite, which is rated 6b+. The pitch can definitely feel a lot harder, especially if you try to compensate for missing off-width technique with power. Alternatively, you can also aid up the old piton ladder on the left. Then you climb practically continuously in chimneys, sometimes deep in the dark mountain. Bring along knee pads and headlamp! The climbing itself is never too difficult, but it does require route finding skills. The belays are usually poorly equipped, along you might find old pitons from time to time and usually you can place your own gear, but you want to have the big cams on your harness. La Voie des Cheminées ends right at the summit of the Petit Clocher. Abseil down the north face or Esprit du Clocher. A unique, adventurous route and an absolute highlight for lovers of alpine chimneys, a nightmare for many others.
Le Chic, le Chèque et le Choc ****
7SL | 230m | 6c (6a + obl)
C. & Y. Rémy, 1986
Probably the most rewarding route in the southeast wall. Great rock and great climbing along a crack and dihedral system with some slabs. The route is popular and often climbed. And rightly so, because it offers really great climbing. If you make the effort to walk up to the Petit Clocher though, you should climb at least one route on the north wall (Etat de Choc). Chic Chèque Choc is the ideal route for the day of the descent.
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