Ecrins Haute Route: Approaching the Selle Hut

La Grave

Les Deux Alpes and La Grave

A steep S facing descent to be timed carefully for spring snow

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
2 km
Ascent
34 m
Descent
866 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
2.7 km
High Point
3.6 km
Gradient
41˚
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Ecrins Haute Route: Approaching the Selle Hut Map

Description

This is a downhill only day, using lift assistance. However this gives a flavour of the tour, as the skiing is steep and committing, as it is on most of the other days. This is a tour only for advanced skiers, who can confidently turn on steep ground, as falling in the wrong place is a bad idea. Having said that, if you have the required skill level, the tour of the Ecrins, of which this is the first day, is a superb journey through big mountains that are largely unspoilt by commercial development, apart from on their fringes, far less crowded and every bit as good as the classic Haute Route, though considerably more challenging. You may have time to do a run or two off the lifts at la Grave, before doing this descent, but you will need to get the timing spot on. Too early it will be dangerously frozen, risking falling the whole length of the couloir out of control, too late and it will be porridge or worse still, avalanche prone. Note if it is a cloudy day it will not soften and this would be a bad day to start this tour. The exact time to do it will depend on the preceding and current weather and snow conditions- if you're unclear how to assess this then do another tour or go with someone who is. From the top of the la Grave gondola take the drag lift to 3500m, if it is running, or skin up the piste. There are 2 possible entrances to the steep descent to the hut. Either traverse L to the Col de la Lauze, 3512m, level with the top of the lift and drop in from there - this is slightly steeper than the other entrance, and softens in the sun later. Alternatively head in further skier's R, near the summit of the Dome de la Lauze- this may prove easier, but sometimes involves a small amount of bootpacking down shale, to get to the snow, as it sees more sun. The descent below is self-evident, steep initially, easing off a little until a short, steep and narrow section heads down and R through rocks. Below here it is easier again, down and R to the Selle hut. If you have more energy you can leave excess baggage there and do more skinning, either up the valley, or do more skiing down the valley then reascend to the hut.

Difficulty

Severe

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

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

March, April

Features

  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area