Christopher Baud, Brice Bouillanne and Jonathan Charlet have added a new route to the very rarely climbed northwest face of the Dent du Géant, one of the Mont Blanc range's celebrated 4,000m peaks.
They have named their line Cœurs de Géants.
Virgin throughout the 1970s, the northwest face caught the attention of some alpinists of the period, but was never seemingly attempted.
Relatively short (ca 380m), with a slightly convoluted approach, the face is predominately high altitude rock, and as such was considered "out of condition" unless very dry, when other objective problems presented themselves.
It was finally climbed in 1981 by Italians Benedetti and Luigi, who recorded it as an icy rock route, with a difficulty of TD.
The route, and indeed the exact location of line, has somewhat fallen into obscurity.
To access the northwest face Baud, Bouillanne and Charlet used the approach followed in 1900 by Thomas Maischberger, Heinrich Pfanni and Franz Zimmer, who made an impressive first ascent of the north ridge bounding the left side of the face.
Starting from the Aiguille du Midi, which they reached on the first télépherique of the day, Baud, Bouillanne and Charlet crossed the Vallee Blanche and Géant Glacier, then climbed up to the Col Superieur de la Noire (3,622m) on the long ridge running northwest from the Dent du Géant.
They then descended into the high glacial basin below the northwest face and crossed the bergschrund below the northwest face at around 10 a.m.
Starting on the right, the threey climbed a line of weakness to a little below half height and a conspicuous, yellow, heart-shaped, overhanging area that they dubbed Coeur du Géant (Heart of the Giant).
At this point they began a rising traverse left, eventually finishing up the final few pitches of the north ridge to the summit.
The climb was essentially mixed on surprisingly excellent rock, with much sustained dry tooling at around M5 (crux M5+ on the new ground), and a fine little ice couloir on pitch three.
In all they climbed around 10 pitches and a total of 560m to the summit, which they reached at 9 p.m.
A quick escape is to make three long rappels down the southeast face from bolted anchors, and via this the trio was back at the Torino Hut by 10:30 p.m.
Coeurs de Géants (ED) was also named for three French alpinists: Baud's brother, Edouard, who died in a skiing accident on Mont Blanc du Tacul; Maxime Belleville, who skied into a crevasse on the Vallée Blanche shortly after being nominated for a Piolet d'Or; Gregory Costa, killed in the 2012 avalanche on Manaslu.