Les Bans, ENE Ridge

Briançon

Grenoble

A fine and complex route on an isolated and beautiful mountain

Also in Isère, France

Alpine Climbing Moderate

Distance
7.4 km
Ascent
1.2 km
Descent
1.2 km
Low Point
2.6 km
High Point
3.7 km
Gradient
34˚
Les Bans, ENE Ridge Map

The NE ridge of Les Bans is a fine mountain route. In appearance Les Bans resembles a mini Grandes Jorasses. Good route finding and glacial travel skills are needed. It is of the same order of magnitude as the traverse of the Pelvoux, if you include descent to La Bérarde. It is better early season, as the glacier may become impassable in a bad year by early August. The rock is good and very enjoyable on the ridge, so if you find yourself on poor rock then you are off route and need to back track to relocate yourself. Some recommend longer rappels in descent, but if you are reasonably experienced a single 50m rope should be enough. Swift glacier travel and ropework on the rocks will allow you to descend before the glacier becomes dangerously soft.

Description

From the hut go gently up on a path then gently descend, with occasional cables as a handrail, onto the glacier. Head towards the rocky island in the middle of the glacier then trend leftwards. The marked route up the glacier is only an approximate guide, as it will vary season to season. Follow the line of least resistance up the glacier, heading for one of two cols at its head. The W Col is more direct, but quite a bit steeper, with a bergschrund that may be tricky. The E col, to the L in ascent is easier, but you then need to traverse the Pointes de la Pilatte, by pleasant easy mixed ground.

From the W Col the upper few hundred metres is easier if the rock is dry, as there are several sections of UIAA III, throughout the length of the route. You pass several rings on the way, which can be used as anchors in descent for short rappels. You start initially on the R from the W Col, then return to the crest, the route tending to weave around a little, on good rock and very enjoyable. The summit is a magnificent viewpoint of the bigger peaks to the N, Monte Viso to the E and nothing as big to the S or W.

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+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

June, July

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • Glacier kit
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area