Top Ten Less-Extreme Rock Climbing Routes

Frontier Ridge, France
By Cameron M. Burns

Frontier Ridge: Mount Maudit Alps, France

Also known as simply "the Kuffner," the Frontier Ridge on Mount Maudit is a mixed snow, ice, and rock ridge with a stunning position. First climbed in 1887, this climb takes you easily through wonderful scenery to a spiky summit with excellent views of Mount Blanc. While the route holds a very easy grade, it's no giveaway. It's real climbing at a high elevation, and even experienced climbers stay roped up for most of the route.

George Mallory—the famed Everest pioneer—did the third ascent of the Kuffner in 1911. Mallory was so impressed with the quality of the route that he later wrote an account of his ascent and waxed lyrical about the route, the nature of summits, and why we push ourselves toward them: "Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No...and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction...fulfilled a destiny.... To struggle and to understand—never this last without the other; such is the law....

It was, some writers have observed, a foreshadowing of that great epithet to come: "Because it's there.

Just the Facts

First ascent: M. Kuffner, A. Burgener, Josef Furrer, 1887.

Time required: 10 hours round-trip from the Torino or Cosmiques Hut

Technical grade: Alpine Ice 3

References: Mont Blanc Massif, Vol. I, by Lindsay Griffin


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