Hearts of Giants: A First Repeat in the Mont Blanc Massif

On June 17, three young French climbers, Kilian Moni, Arthur Poindefert, and Mathis Garayt made the first repeat of Coeurs de Geants, a line on the northwest face of Dent du Geant (4,013m) in the Mont Blanc massif.

The 580m mixed climb (ED, M6+/7, WI 4+, 5c (5.10a) was first opened on June 29, 2014 by French guides Christopher Baud, Brice Bouillance, and Jonathan Charlet.

According to UK mountaineer Lindsay Griffin, an Italian duo first ascended the northwest face of Dent du Geant even earlier, in 1981. Unfortunately, their exact line was later forgotten.

"Coeurs de Geants" on the northwest face of Dent du Geant.

‘Coeurs de Geants’ on the northwest face of Dent du Geant. Photo: Kilian Moni


An extra pitch

Kilian Moni wrote this week in Planet Mountain that after a very poor spring with lots of snow, Arthur Poindefert suggested that they check out the route. Since its first ascent in 2014, no one had attempted the obscure line.

The trio gained some information about the route from the original climbers, and on June 17, they approached its starting point.

It was “as if we were doing a huge ice climb in the middle of winter,” recalled Moni. While snow covered the glacier during their approach, the lower section of the face was full of ice.

Garayt started the climb via a small variant because the glacier had retreated considerably since 2014. This meant adding an extra pitch to the original route. The good ice and snow allowed the threesome to progress quickly.

Ascending the northwest face of Dent du Geant.

On the northwest face of the Dent du Geant. Photo: Kilian Moni


After the first gully, they headed left and made a long traverse onto the north ridge. Here, the crux pitches awaited. Moni told Planet Mountain that the sixth pitch M6+/7) was the most difficult because it was so exposed.

On pitch eight, they had to make another variation, because some loose rocks had collapsed on the original route. So they decided to head up toward a corner with little ice in order to access the north ridge.

Their last four pitches were on compact rock and snow along an exposed arete with an incredible void on the left side.

A five-star bivouac

“To round off the perfect day, we were treated to a five-star bivouac overlooking Mont Blanc on the Col de Rochefort,” recalled Moni.

Mathis Garayt, Kilian Moni and Arthur Poindefert on the summit of Dent du Geant.

Mathis Garayt, Kilian Moni, and Arthur Poindefert on the summit of Dent du Geant. Photo: Arthur Poindefert


The 2014 team had called their route Coeurs de Geants (Hearts of Giants) after three deceased comrades. Baud’s brother died skiing on Mont Blanc du Tacul in 2004, Maxime Belleville suffered a fatal fall into a crevasse in 2009 shortly after being nominated for a Piolet d’Or, and Gregory Costa died in an avalanche on Manaslu in 2012.

"Coeur de Geants" on the Dent du Geant (4.013m). 2014.

The 2014 ‘Coeurs de Geants’ line on the Dent du Geant (4,013m).


Lindsay Griffin described the 2014 climb in detail on thebmc.co.uk site that year.

The Dent du Geant was among the last peak to be climbed in the Alps. Its easiest route lies on the southwest face. In 1880, Albert Mummery and Alexander Burgener attempted it that way but had to retreat because of a series of slabs. Mummery declared that it was “absolutely inaccessible by fair means!”

Finally, on August 20, 1882, legendary British mountaineer William Woodman Graham (who later led the first purely mountaineering expedition to the Himalaya) and his guides, Auguste Cupelin and Alphonse Payot, made the first ascent of Dent du Geant.

One of the best mountaineers of the history, Albert Frederick Mummery climbing a crack line that now is called after him ("Mummery's crack"), on Aiguille des Grands Charmoz, in 1893.

One of history’s mountaineers, Albert Frederick Mummery, climbs what is now known as Mummery’s Crack, on Aiguille des Grands Charmoz, in 1893. Photo: Maurice Paillon

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.