Ecrins Haute Route: Alpe de Villar d'Arene Hut to Ecrins Hut via Col Emile Pic 3483m

Briançon

A crucial link up a complex glacier through a high col, with an optional peak

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
7.5 km
Ascent
1.5 km
Descent
435 m
Duration
5-6 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
3.5 km
Gradient
61˚
Ecrins Haute Route: Alpe de Villar d'Arene Hut to Ecrins Hut via Col Emile Pic 3483m Map

Before embarking on this day you need to be clear about the condition of the Agneau Glacier, as in in a poor season it may be difficult or impossible to get up it due to the extensive crevasses. Seek information from the relevant huts beforehand. If this described itinerary is impractical, an alternative is to go further E, via the Brèche de la Plate des Agneaux, 3217m, from the E side, then up the broad N ridge of the Pic de Neige Cordier.

Description

From the Alpe de Villar d'Arene hut retrace you tracks from yesterday up to about 2180m. You now head SSE towards the steep slopes that lead up to the hanging valley above. Climb these by the most practical way (the line will vary year to year). It is usually refrozen and you'll need ski crampons, or to climb it on foot with crampons and axe. As the angle eases off, approaching 2500m, you can return to more gentle skinning, taking the easiest line, usually an arc in ascent, gaining the ablation valley behind a moraine wall at about 2700m. Continue steadily on up onto the Agneau Glacier, joining it at about 3000m. The angle of the glacier is relatively easy, but the challenge will lie in navigating a safe route through the zones of crevasses. This is not a great place to be in poor visibility. It steepens around 3330m and there is often a large transverse crevasse, splitting the entire width of the glacier at around 3350m- a good snow bridge will be essential here. Above, to Col Emile Pic, the terrain becomes easier angled from about 3400m, arriving at 3483m to great relief and a great view! The Pic de Neige Cordier above you is an extra fine summit, for barely 150m of extra climb. The descent on the far side of the Col Emile Pic on the S side will normally involve a rappel of 20-30m, before gaining steep snow below. It is a pleasant ski down and R on hopefully good spring snow to the Ecrins Hut at 3175m

Difficulty

Severe

Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

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

March, April

Features

  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area