Alps: New Route Free Climbed Up the West Face of Petit Dru

A French team carves a new route up an old face in the Alps

Never tell creative minds and skilled climbers that everything’s already done. Four members of Chamonix’s Military High Mountain group (GMHM) have free climbed a new route on the legendary West Face of the Drus, in France’s Mont Blanc Massif. Their new route, called Base, (1,000 m, M8 +, 7 a), leads to the summit of Petit Dru (3,730m).

Thomas Auvaro, Jordi Noguere, Léo Billon, and Sebastien Ratel needed five days from February 18 to 23 to climb the route. Webcams installed at the Montenvers train station captured their performance and broadcast it live on YouTube and from the GMHM website.

Climbers’ Debriefing (in French)


The Petit Dru has been the scene of many epic climbs in the history of classic alpinism. Its north face is one of the six great faces of the Alps. On the 1,000m-long West Face, the most applauded routes were the Bonatti (SW) Pillar, opened solo by the Italian climber in 1955, and the American Diretissima, climbed in 1965 by Royal Robbins and John Harlin. However, a massive rock slide destroyed both routes (and some others) in 2005. It also increased the danger of loose rockfall.

Topo of the new route, Base, on the West Face of Petit Dru.


Interestingly enough, while the French climbers were opening their new route, Corrado Pesce and Will Sim were a little further to the right, repeating 2009’s Voie des Papas together with what is left of the former Bonatti Pillar.

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 year ago

The picture says it all. Interesting that the upper pitches appear to be covered in snow but have rock climbing ratings, while lower pitches that look cleaner have ice climbing ratings. There are not a lot of routes that involve both hard rock and ice climbing, and not a lot of people who can do them

Last edited 1 year ago by Don Paul