7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
You are unlikely to be alone for this day, but it is justifiably popular and, being relatively non-technical, there shouldn’t be any bottlenecks.
Leave early in hot weather as your whole day is more or less in the sun.
Follow the L side of the Torrent de Brune streambed in ascent, taking the long route to the Col des Muandes, 2828m.
A possible traverse from here is marked on the map, but it feels much more logical and pleasant to make a short descent, then reascent to the next one, the Col de Valmeinier, 2869m.
It is best to leave skins on here though and do a short, exposed, slightly downward traverse the far side to the bowl on the N side of the col.
Reascend more steeply now to the Col de la Chapelle, where you once again, traverse the far side, to the E side of this col.
You are now in the final sunny bowl below the summit, which can be a sun trap.
Continue up and R, taking the path of least resistance, curving back past the ancient chapel just below the top.
There are 2 close summits, so take your pick - the one with least wind and least people preferably.
Hopefully it isn’t too warm, otherwise you may need to immediately descend to avoid softening snow.
If not, you can enjoy a picnic with a brilliant view, especially to the S, with the whole of the Ecrins opening out before you.
You have a choice of several descents to the S, with little to choose between them.
We chose to retrace our steps and take the open bowl we had skinned up then straight down the SE facing valley, past the Lac Blanc, down to the flats at the Prat du Plan.
You need to find the way into the steeper, wooded terrain, past some old huts, then down into the valley floor.
You are aiming to pick up the well used path that takes you to the hamlet of Les Granges de Vallee Etroite.
The hut we stayed in I couldn’t recommend highly enough- the I Re Magi Hut.
There is another hut very close by if it is full.
The reception and food is legendary, with copious free drink before, during and after the excellent meal.
It is culturally Italian, though due to a border technicality lies in France.