When the sun goes down, the slab takes silvery colors.
The Miroir d'Argentine is an ancient seabed dating from the Cretaceous period, straightened and curved by the intense folding of the entire limestone Alps chain.
ALPINISTS OPEN ROUTES ON THE MIROIR
The particular and smooth slab of the Great Miroir of Argentine, is a challenging invitation to sport climbers.
In 1922, despite snow and ice, three students from Lausanne reached the top of the slab. Another party of climbers, guided by Armand Moreillon, a local from Les Plans-sur-Bex, sent the first successful ascent of the Voie Normale in 1926. At that time, there were no anchors to secure climbers. Arm-strength was all they had to stop a fall. Falling was not really an option.
New routes were opened in the 30s and 40s and anchors were hammered into the rock. Climbing equipment, rock shoes for instance, slowly improved as well.
Nowadays there are about 15 bolted climbing routes up the 400 meters of the face.
Climbing and geology
Engrossed in his sport, a climber has little time to notice the fossils scattered on the rock.
However, the keen climber may notice that the steepness of the face diminishes as he progresses. Indeed, the slab is not flat but curved. It follows the curve of the great fold that forms the massif of Argentine. The folding process created cracks in the rock, the type of cracks one sees when folding a piece of rubber. These cracks are climbers’ favoured ways up the wall. The Voie Normale and Voie Directe are perfect examples of these vertical paths.
In addition, as it flows down the cracks, water chemically dissolves limestone. It gradually carves winding grooves, making perfect footholds.
If you prefer hiking, don't miss the Tour de l'Argentine, which takes about 5 hours from Solalex.