Barre des Écrins, W Ridge

Briançon

A classic mountaineering journey to the top of the most southerly 4000m peak in the Alps

Also in Isère, France

Alpine Climbing Moderate

Distance
10 km
Ascent
1.2 km
Descent
1.1 km
Low Point
3.1 km
High Point
4.1 km
Gradient
29˚
Barre des Écrins, W Ridge Map

This is a fine day to a beautiful summit, the highest peak for many miles. It passes through a heavily crevassed glacier, with some unavoidable serac danger. All of the technical difficulty is concentrated in the final hour, the rest being a glacial journey. Do not follow the exact route on the glacier as marked, as it varies from year to year according to the crevasses.

Description

Descend steeply from the Écrins Hut a short distance to the broad glacier below. Follow this extremely gently for a while, until the angle suddenly kicks up, at about 3400m. Your route to the summit has been visible all the way and before it steepens up, whilst safely out of harm's way, take a decent break and throw down some food and drink. It is crucial that you do not waste a moment with stops on the next section as it is serac threatened.

The route is usually a good track, weaving its way upwards through complicated steep terrain. It eases off in angle at about 3700m before a final steep section, crossing a bergschrund and then leading up to the Brèche Lory at 3974m. Very exposed mixed climbing to the summit of the Barre des Écrins lies to your L. Many will satisfy themselves with the much shorter and easier snow summit to the R, The Dome de Neige des Écrins at 4015m.

For those heading to the main summit the character of the route now changes. A very exposed section of mixed ground gets you established from Brèche Lory onto the ridge above. Follow the ridge, pretty much on its crest the whole way, crossing the intermediate summit of Pic Lory at 4086m.

Descent is the same in reverse.

Difficulty

Moderate

May involve slightly more complex glacier hikes, easy but possibly long rock ridges and steep snow up to 45 degrees. Equivalent to PD, PD+

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The route features some exposed and/or difficult to protect sections.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area