/ anybody traversed the Tete de La Gandoliere (Ecrins)?

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c beechey - on 24 Sep 2012
This July, at the end of an Alpine holiday, we attempted the Traverse of the Tete de La Gandoliere direct from La Berade (Route 5a, page 66, AC guidebook) but we turned back 7 hours into the route, halfway up the Dome de La Gandoliere. The guidebook suggests a time of 11 hours from the valley for the complete traverse.
The route gave fantastic exposed rock climbing at around AD, but we saw no evidence of anybody having climbed it for years - no scratches, no abseil pegs in the approach couloir etc.
Our reason for turning back was just being overcautious as the rest of the route looked exposed and long with an unseen descent. We also had a ferry to catch the next day!
It would be great to get opinions on the route from anybody who has done this route in recent years as I would like to return.
Doug on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to c beechey: No, but have you looked on CamptoCamp.org ?

is this the same route ?
http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/54690/fr/le-plaret-traversee-pic-geny-plaret-tete-de-la-gandoliere
pdone on 25 Sep 2012
In reply to c beechey:
I have done this route but it was about 30 years ago so I don't remember details. I remember that the descent, particularly down to the Glacier de la Gondoliere, was very unpleasant because of loose rock; the ascent was fine.

The glacier will have changed considerably since then so it is probably worthwhile asking at the Refuge du Chatelleret if they know what the descent from the Tete is like.

I am sorry I can't give you more details but I hope this helps.
Colin Wells - on 25 Sep 2012
In reply to pdone:

I second pdone - although I'm afraid my traverse was also a long time ago (21 years to be precise). However, the memory is still quite vivid due to it being much looser and time consuming than expected - especially the descent which was hard work when trying to stay on the best line.

In the end it took us 23-hours non-stop tent-to-tent (from campsite in La Bararde), so perhaps a good job you turned back!

Cheers,
Col
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c beechey - on 25 Sep 2012
In reply to Colin Wells:
Thanks for your reply and that of pdone. It certainly sounds as if we made the correct decision to turn back after your experiences. I am too old for epics these days! In retrospect we should have asked locally about the route.

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