North Face of Grandes Jorasses: the Diretissima Free-Climbed in Winter

It’s been a fruitful season in the Alps, with new routes and first repetitions of some of the toughest lines on the classic North Faces. This week, Symon Welfringer, Charles Dubouloz, and Clovis Pauline sent a monster route on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses. They managed the first repetition of the Directissime de la Point Walker, an ED++ 7a A2 route opened by legendary Patrick Gabarrou and Herve Bouvard in the summer of 1986.

The Diretissima on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses, by Montagnes Magazine


This time, the three French alpinists free-climbed it — in winter!  The feat took them five days, including four bivouacs on its frozen, shaded face.

The climbers on the summit. Photo: ©Mathis Dumas/Millet

Impressive winter revision

The highly difficult route goes up a vertical couloir and then an overhanging chimney rated up to 6a/b and A2, according to Montagnes magazine. It finally joins the Walker Spur near the summit, which the climbers reached yesterday (February 13).

Clovis Pauline. Photo: Instagram


This marks Charles Dubouloz’s second line on the Grandes Jorasses’ North Face. He also soloed Rolling Stones, located just to the right of the Diretissima. It too ends on the legendary Walker Spur.

Charles Dubouloz. Photo: Facebook


Ice conditions are especially good this year. This has allowed elite climbers to tackle the great north faces that are inaccessible in summer when higher temperatures make the rock dangerously fragile.

Symon Welfringer. Photo: Damien Largeron/Welfringer’s Instagram


A few days earlier, the same Symon Welfringer climbed The Muse (M8, grade 6+), a monster icefall rarely doable because of its southern exposure. It has only been climbed twice before, in 2005 and 2012. Welfringer did it with Morgan Salmon and Nicolas Grandjean on January 30.

Welfringer at ‘The Muse.’ Photo: @hugowirth/Welfringer’s Instagram

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.