If Mont Blanc is the King of the Alps, then the Grandes Jorasses is its dark and shady counterpart. It’s a north face that defines all north faces: a sweep of steep granite that stretches for over a kilometre in length and rises 1200m high that sucks in the alpinist’s gaze. It’s not just the sheer size of the thing but also the quality and huge variation in climbing that makes this peak such a target for seasoned alpinists. Holding rank as one of the ‘Six North Faces’ it hasn’t disappointed with the passage of time or more advanced equipment. If anything, the Grandes Jorasses was climbed almost too soon, since many of the other great North Faces are considered relatively easy now for modern climbers, but the Jorasses will still put up a tough fight. As home to over forty routes, the size and difficulties still present a formidable challenge to even the strongest. Nevertheless every few years another line is unlocked as modern climbers push themselves harder and harder in the dark art of winter alpinism.
The beauty of the Grandes Jorasses is its rock - the bomber granite which has made the Chamonix area so famous allows climbers to scale incredibly steep and hard mixed routes that allow some level of safety and protection - which is more than can be said for some of its alpine counterparts. Laying claim to many of Europe’s hardest alpine routes, for some this awesome face has become the ultimate training ground.