Aiguille du Dru

The Aiguille du Dru (also the Dru or the Drus; French, Les Drus) is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. It is situated to the east of the village of Les Praz in the Chamonix valley. “Aiguille” means “needle” in French.

Mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps
Aiguille du Dru

The west and south-west faces of the Petit Dru, with visible grey rockfall scar (May, 2006)
Highest point
Elevation 3,754 m (12,316 ft)[1]
Listing Great north faces of the Alps



Aiguille du Dru
Location Haute-Savoie, France
Parent range Graian Alps
Mountain type Granite
First ascent 12 September 1878 by Clinton Thomas Dent, James Walker Hartley, Alexander Burgener and K. Maurer
Easiest route AD

The mountain’s highest summit is:

  • Grande Aiguille du Dru (or the Grand Dru) 3,754 m

Another, slightly lower sub-summit is:

  • Petite Aiguille du Dru (or the Petit Dru) 3,733 m.

The two summits are on the west ridge of the Aiguille Verte (4,122 m) and are connected to each other by the Brèche du Dru (3,697 m). The north face of the Petit Dru is considered one of the six great north faces of the Alps.

The southwest “Bonatti” pillar and its eponymous climbing route were destroyed in a 2005 rock fall.[2][3]

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The first ascent of the Grand Dru was by British alpinists Clinton Thomas Dent and James Walker Hartley, with guides Alexander Burgener and K. Maurer, who climbed it via the south-east face on 12 September 1878. Dent, in his description of the climb, wrote:

Those who follow us, and I think there will be many, will perhaps be glad of a few hints about this peak. Taken together, it affords the most continuously interesting rock climb with which I am acquainted. There is no wearisome tramp over moraine, no great extent of snow fields to traverse. Sleeping out as we did, it would be possible to ascend and return to Chamonix in about 16 to 18 hrs. But the mountain is never safe when snow is on the rocks, and at such times stones fall freely down the couloir leading up from the head of the glacier. The best time for the expedition would be, in ordinary seasons, in the month of August. The rocks are sound and are peculiarly unlike those of other mountains. From the moment the glacier is left, hard climbing begins, and the hands as well as the feet are continuously employed. The difficulties are therefore enormously increased if the rocks be glazed or cold; and in bad weather the crags of the Dru would be as pretty a place for an accident as can well be imagined.[4]

The Petit Dru was climbed in the following year, on 29 August 1879, by J. E. Charlet-Straton, P. Payot and F. Follignet via the south face and the south-west ridge. The first traverse of both summits of the Drus was by E. Fontaine and J. Ravanel on 23 August 1901. The first winter traverse of the Drus was by Armand Charlet and Camille Devouassoux on 25 February 1938.

The north face of the Petit Dru (centre, with large snowpatch) in 2008. The west and south-west faces (with fresh rockfall scars) are to the right. The peak on the left is the Aiguille Verte.

In 1889 both peaks of the Dru were climbed for the first time from the Petit Dru to the Grand Dru by two parties. One party contained Katharine Richardson and guides Emile Rey and Jean-Baptiste Bich, and the other Mr Nash and Mr Williams with guides François Simond, Frederic Payot and Edouard Cupelin.[5]

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