On Wednesday we climbed Madagsikara, which apparantly is the Madagascan name for Madagascar. After being rained off Fraise des Boatchs from the top of the first tier last week we still wanted to climb to the summit of the Grande Floria. Also we were feeling a bit wrecked from the full traverse of the Domes du Miage and the long descent to the valley and we thought a bit of rock climbing would be light relief. We had intended continuing to the Durrier Hut to traverse the Bionnassay, but somehow it didn’t feel like the right thing to do when we got to the highest of the Domes. Strong winds, recent snowfall, verglass on the rocks at altitude; we had too many misgivings and decided to call it a day.
There are three tiers of climbing to be had on the Grande Floria, followed by a short scramble to the top. Most of the climbing is on the lower tier, and many parties descend from here down the abseil piste or the snow and scree. The second tier is barely worth the effort, but the third tier has 3 substancial pitches that I really enjoyed. This tier is more lonely and feels like mountaineering. From the end of the climbing you can reach the top in 10 to 15 minutes.
You can abseil the top tier and then descend easily, but we followed the Voie Normale down in order to make a traverse. It’s easy enough to scramble down the SW arete to the col, and from there either continue traversing the Petite Floria or descend the couloir back to the Index chairlift. (If you aren’t carrying gear for the snow then there are abseil anchors in the couloir if you need them, but you’d need to leave some slings or tat).
The Piola guidebook to the Aiguilles Rouges is excellent!