The Cosmiques Arete is a popular Chamonix classic. With a quick approach from the top of Aiguille du Midi cablecar, and fun, well-protected climbing in spectacular situations, the route gets plenty of attention in the busy summer season.
To beat the crowds, I arrived at the Midi at 6am with Andy and Tom, only to find opening delayed by an hour while ice was cleared from the cables after the previous nights thunderstorm. Eventually we were underway, and conditions down the Midi arete were good, improved by a dusting of new snow.
Although it was a busy day, our early start paid dividends, especially as afternoon thunderstorms were forecast. Climbing efficiently, we stayed amongst the first teams climbing the route that morning as the weather started to become more 'atmospheric' to the south over Italy.
The difficulties on the route are a number of short boulder problems between steps of granite. The crux gets F4c, but feels harder in big boots on small footholds. It is, however, short and very well protected, and with a bolted belay 8m above.
After this, the route switches to the left-hand side of the crest, giving easier, but spectacularly exposed climbing above the north-west face of the Midi.
With the weather threatening to bubble over from the south, we arrived at the ladder up to the cablecar viewing platform just as the clouds came in - perfect timing!