/ Ski touring in Ecrins. Queyras.

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Graeme Schofield - on 14 Jan 2013
Hi

I am thinking of going out to the Queyras region in the Ecrins in February. Has anyone got some information on day ski tours in the area or alternatively know of a good source of info for non-French speaking Brits.

Cheers

Graeme
Doug on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield: Do you mean the Ecrins or the Queyras? I've toured quite a bit in the Queyras but have seen little written in English although I think an article on this site about ski touring mentioned them

Could recommend several books in French if that helps
Graeme Schofield - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Doug: Sorry I meant in the Queyras National Park near to the Ecrins. We are staying in Guillestre and I have climbed in the region and skied at Vars a couple of times but I know next to nothing about the touring there. Recommendations of French guidebooks would be really useful.

Cheers
Graeme
fawlty on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield: Hi Graeme
Don't know if this is the kind of thing you're after but there is a Scottish guide living in the Ecrins year round, Murray Hamilton who has lived & guided in the area for 15yrs or so.
We've been out on tours with him and he usually knows where the conditions are/will be good. I'm sure if you dropped him a note he'd give you some info.
HTH & have fun.
Matt
altirando - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield: 3000 sans Frontiere Alpes du Sud, Editions Gap, has ski and climbing ascents of over 100 summits in the Queyras and Ubaye. Surely being able to at least read a little French is essential?
Doug on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield: the most obvious two are
Ski de Randonnée : Hautes-Alpes by Cabau & Galley (see http://www.olizane.ch/article.php?IDrecord=105 )
&
Toponeige -Queyras by Volle & Tassan (see http://www.volopress.net/volo/spip.php?article626)
Both are now in their 2nd edition

Both are from series which cover much of the French Alps, the first is more selective but includes most of the classic tours & I find it easier to use, the second is pretty comprehensive but many of the routes are pretty difficult (at least for me). With either you'll need the IGN 1:25 000 map which also shows (some) ski routes. If you are a member of the Eagle Ski Club, there are accounts of several club trips in the yearbook, some now on line.

A few photos in my gallery, such as
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=42351

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=42350
badmarmot - on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield:

Hi Graeme

the below is a good general guide for mounatineering and ski mountaineering in the both areas

http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/Foreign-Climbing-Guides/Europe/France/Ecrin-Da...

I also have a free PDF with 13 ski rando routes around the ecrins if you email me i will send it you?

i live out in the ecrins so if you would like any more info about the area, of places to stay let me know

cheers Rob

paraffin on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield:

Hi, this site is good with links to maps etc on the top left icons.
Also you can hit the translate button.

http://www.skitour.fr/

The Olizane book recommended by Doug is excellent too - but in French.

Most of the IGN maps have the tours marked in purple lines on them too.

have a great time

Davie
Graeme Schofield - on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield: Thanks for all your recommendations and advice. Much appreciated.
kenr - on 17 Jan 2013
In reply to parafinn:
> Most of the IGN maps have the tours marked in purple lines on them too.

I would be very cautious about relying on those ski tour lines on the French IGN maps. I got into significant trouble following one just a week ago in the Beaufortain. I can think of another one in the Mont Blanc massif where the safest line is not shown on the map at all and the one which is shown only works in favorable snow conditions.

I would be especially sceptical about lines on glaciers or which purport to show a correct entry/exit point to a glacier. Because with so many warm summers in the Alps, everything is changing.

There are other cases (outside the Queyras + Ecrins) where there's nothing _wrong_ with the line -- but almost nobody tries to reach that touring objective in that way anymore - (usually because lots of people figured out a better way).

Now I don't know the Queyras very well. Perhaps someone has verified that all the ski tour lines on the maps for Queyras are currently helpful.

But generally the lines have not been updated in who know how many years (decades?). And I definitely suspect they were originally drawn before lots of people carried GPS on ski tours.

Ken
Doug on 17 Jan 2013
In reply to kenr: (Ken Roberts ?)
Its clear that the lines predate the use of GPS (they don't seem to have changed from maps I bought 20+ years ago) but they are only intended to give an indication of a route - that's why they are drawn as wide, sweeping curves.

From memory, the routes shown for the Queyras are OK - I've not checked in detail but in some 20 years of visits I've never had any problems. I suspect its mostly the glaciated sections which have become a little dubious (& there are no glaciers in the Queyras)
paraffin on 17 Jan 2013
In reply to Doug:
Agreed - purple lines are only an indication of the route.

The Queyras lines as far as I know from my 20+ yrs of experience are ok.

There are so many other variables to consider; weather, ability, terrain, snow cover & condition, fitness, avalanches, time of day etc.

Following a sweeping purple line on a map - now who would be so dumb as to do something like that? ;-)

Davie
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield:

I'd go along with Doug's recommendations, especially :

Ski de Randonnée : Hautes-Alpes by Cabau & Galley (see http://www.olizane.ch/article.php?IDrecord=105 )

I've used these guides in the Ecrins and elsewhere and they are very good, even for a poor skier like me - all levels are catered for. As said you also need the IGN maps - the blue lines are only rough indications, you need the more detailed information from the books. They are in French but if you spend a bit of time beforehand, ideally with a French speaker to help, you should be able to manage.
kenr - on 19 Jan 2013
In reply to Doug:
> I suspect its mostly the glaciated sections which have become a little dubious

Well in other regions of the French Alps, the problems I've found with the ski routes were not in the glaciated sections.

I mentioned glaciers only as an obvious place where routes which are not getting any attention for updates might have become dangerously wrong as a result of the hot temperatures in recent years (especially summertime melting).

And the problems I've found in other regions of the French Alps are not just that the line has been too roughly or sweepingly drawn.

Ken
kenr - on 19 Jan 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Ski de Randonnée : Hautes-Alpes
> www.olizane.ch
> I've used these guides in the Ecrins and elsewhere and they are very good

I've also used the Olizane guides for other parts of the French Alps, and I _used_ to think they were very good.
Now what I'd say is that at least 90% of their tours are very good (in Savoie, the region I know best), but maybe 5% make no sense any more - (and I can think of one which I suspect never did make much sense).

At first I didn't see the point of the newer Toponeige series (black hardcover), and loyally stuck with the Olizane (white paperback), felt that younger skiers favored Toponeige because Olizane is a Swiss publisher.

But now I've been won over to Toponeige, at first because I bought a new copy of the Olizane guide for Savoie to replace a well-worn copy, and discovered that in the intervening years they had made no updates for the tours that made no sense any more.

Then I would try the main Toponeige route for the same peak also in the Olizane book, and discover that the Toponeige route was easier and more fun. (and I'm not talking about some 45 degree couloir).

It's not just that (non-glacial) conditions have changed since the old Olizane editions, it's that smart ski-tourers have learned things about where to get more fun skiing for less work.

Now I'm also finding that the Toponeige have ideas for interesting for longer single-day circular tours which are not mentioned in the Olizane books.

Queyras ... might have nothing new to be learned - (I wouldn't know, I'm too busy touring in other regions with more non-ski-touring and even non-skiing things to offer), so I hope the Olizane guidebook covering the Queyras is completely satisfactory.

Ken
kenr - on 19 Jan 2013
In reply to badmarmot:
> below is a good general guide for mountaineering and ski mountaineering in the both areas
> http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/Foreign-Climbing-Guides/Europe/France/Ecrin-Da...

Thanks a lot -- I'll have to get a copy. How could I _not_ want a guidebook less than five years old which is available in the
language of English.

Which reminds me that some of the Toponeige ski-touring guides are being translated into English.

and note that overcoming the requirement to learn French to read guidebook descriptions is a problem which some of us can address.
www.camptocamp.org (abbrev C2C)
is one of the largest climbing and ski-touring websites for France
and is in fact a multi-lingual facility, and they make it pretty easy to contribute an
English-language version
of a route which already has a French-language description.

So I've started contributing English-language descriptions of some climbing routes, and discovered that the response of the managers of the CampToCamp.org website has been very encouraging.

Ken
kenr - on 19 Jan 2013
And much easier than a full Route description in English ...
could also contribute to C2C an English-language
Outing / trip report

CampToCamp.org used to have a rule (maybe they still do) that you could only contribute an Outing report in the same language of the Route description.

But now they seem to be accepting my English-language reports connected to existing French-language route descriptions. You can put a lot of helpful route-description details into an Outing report if you choose.

(I guess this goes along with the upsurge of English nouns into the retail shopping experience in France)

Ken
Pinch'a'salt on 19 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Schofield:

Track down Benoit at Prieur Blanc Sports in St Veran or Kiwi Sports in Mollines - he speaks very good English and is from St Veran so knows the ski touring in the area well.
ads.ukclimbing.com
andyr - on 19 Jan 2013

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