/ Suggested novice routes in Les Ecrins

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Andy Nelson - on 25 Jun 2012
So, spent two weeks with guides last season and covered some classics in Arolla Valley (L'Eveque by the SW Ridge) and then drove and made the Dri Hornli Traverse. This year we are going alone and looking for suitable route in the Ecrins.

As background: We are all in reasonable shape and have climbed plenty in the UK, however I am looking for routes that are fairly short (given our slow, but improving, alpine speed) but something more interesting than a glacier trudge.
Also, we'd like to figure out a good hut to go up for a few days at a time, hopefully completing two or more routes before coming back. We have two weeks. and we're driving so no problem getting about.

Curent thoughts are actually to repeat the Dri Honrli, as a warm up and acclimatisation plan and maybe do Weissmies. Before heading to Les Ecrins. But with enough planning (and help from you guys) we might strike out in the Ecrins directly.

So, any suggestions for a hut and some routes in Les Ecrins, that second season alpinsts could tackle and involve some interesting ridge climbing?
Mike-W-99 on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson:
Dont know where you are going to stay but this is of a similar grade to the Dri Hornli. We were staying in Puy St Vincent and did it as a day trip.

JLS on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson:

I've always fancied a go on the Aiguille Dibona. The ordinary route is only PD which would serve as a warm-up and allow contemplation of the harder lines there... Without looking at the guide I'm not sure how hard the other routes come in at but I seem to remember considering something at a reasonable grade.

altirando - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson: The Dome des Ecrins, the 4000m snow top of the Barre, is straightforward, but don't slip off the traverse near the top. I did the Pic Coolidge with my daughter some years ago, from the Berarde side, but you can cross from the head of the Glacier Noir. There is another easy peak at the head of the gl.blanc that is supposed to be a sub for the Barre but I have forgotten its name.
tjhare1 - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson:
One option would be to go up to the Glacier Blanc hut, taking in something like Graine de Cezanne on the way (30mins walk above the hut, not diffuclt at all). The following day you could do the South Ridge of the Pic du Glacier Blanc (AD), a good ridge climb. The following day you could do the traverse of the Pointe des Cineastes (AD). This would provide you with a good couple of days where the climbing is never desperate, the altitude never too high, and the views always good.

Later on, you could perhaps consider this as a significantly more difficult route. Walk up to the Pelvoux hut. Do the traverse of the Aiguilles du Sialouze (D). A splendid climb on top quality rock, although the descent can be complex. The following day you could do a traverse of Pelvoux, descending to Ailefroide. This is a wonderful moutnain day, and although not involving any ridge climbing if done by the 'normal' route, it is not in the least a dull glacier trudge. One of the best low grade Ecrin mountain routes.

If you were hoping to be round the far side (La Berard base), you could consider going up to the Lavey hut (a lovely hut ~1 hr 15 from the road). From here you could do the Arete des Papillons on the Aiguille d'entre Pierroux. The next day you could do the Tete des Fetoules, although this is perhaps a bit more of a slog than you are looking for.

From the Soreiller hut (dibona), the obvious route is the north ridge. Really though, this is a very short day. The bulk of the face routes on the dibona are ~TD, but the Berthet/Boell/Stofer may be worth looking at. Of more interest to someone looking for AD ridge traverses would be a traverse of the Soreiller Occidentale - Soreiller Centrale - Aiguille Dibona.

Hope this has given some inspiration. It is quite hard to gauge what you are capable of as I am unaware of the extent and type of climbing you do in the UK. For this reason I have included harder options (Sialouze), and easier alternatives (Arete des Papillons, Dibona standard route), as well as some in the middle (Pic du Glacier Blanc, Cineastes).
Mark Bull - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to tjhare1:

Some good suggestions there!

A couple of other worthwhile AD rock routes in the area are the traverse of the Dents de Coste Counier (Bans hut) and the S ridge of Pointe Louise (Ecrins hut, http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=51699 )
gingerdave13 - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to altirando: Although it fits with the requirements i wouldn't really recommend this peak as it's an absoloute HOARD of peeps on the mountain in general.
Andy Nelson - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to tjhare1: Excellent suggestions thank you. At the moment I am erring on caution in terms of difficulty and length, mainly because this has seen far less multipitch work and, admittedly, much more bouldering, which hardly counts as cross training for the Alps.
Will read up on Arete Des Papillons and Pic Du Glacier Blanc.

Very much appreciated.

Andy Nelson - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson: Should also have said that although we climb here in UK, our trad lead level is VDif to S.
altirando - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to gingerdave13: Yeah, it is busy, but a satisfying 4000m route and perhaps novice alpinists should stay on busy routes? I did find the comment about no boring snow plods a bit depressing from a novice. It is still a great experience cramponing up an easy slope in the early morning sun surrounded by amazing rock and ice scenery, gradually finding yourself level with a sea of summits. The peak name I forgot is of course the Roche Faurio.
Andy Nelson - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to altirando: I didn't mean to sound disparaging about Glacier work, I fully agree that time in the mountains is all good. I suppose I was expressing an interest in some more mixed routes as, since we specifically been building experience of trad climbing it'd be nice to flex those brain ce;;s too.
Martin Haworth on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson: Roche Faurio is a good acclimatisation peak with outstanding panoramas, it is a snow/glacier route, but good to get up to 3700m.
Other routes for you to look at are:
Traverse of the Pelvoux, PD+ but a big outing.
Arete des Cineastres, a classic and excellent rock ridge route about UK severe grade.
Pic Glacier Blanc south arete.
Dome de Neige, a glacier route not without interest and a 4000m peak.
Barre des Ecrins, 4100m, normal route, PD+, fantastic route the final ridge is an exposed diff/v diff.
Cuthbert on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to Andy Nelson:

You could hire Andy Nelson as a guide.

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