7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
A very amenable tour through absolutely stunning scenery, the traverse of the Col de la Grande Classe from Pralognan to Champagny should be high on everyone’s to-do list! From the rocky peaks of Pralognan to the imposing snowy north face of the Grande Classe and finishing in the beautiful hanging valley of Champagny le Haut (where you can often spot bouqetin grazing on the sunny mountainsides), this is a true journey through the heart of the northern Vanoise massif. From Pralognan make your way to the top of the lifts at Les Barmettes (possible overnight here) and follow the main valley up towards the Col de la Vanoise.
Once past the Lac des Vaches it is possible to skin up the snout fo the moraine in the winter months (in spring it will generally be easier to continue up to the right of the moraine and then climb a short steep slope above the Lac Long to cross on to the gentle slopes running up to the Glacier de la Grande Classe).
A short steep section takes you to the Col de la Grande Casse. From the col ski down under the imposing north face, keeping fairly high underneath the face to avoid a more crevassed area of the glacier lower down.
At 2800m, where the Glacier de l’Epena and Glacier de Rosolin split, stay left of the shoulder/spur (spot height 2798m) but then stay right of the obvious moraine ridge to reach a large flat area just above the Refuge de la Glière. From here follow the right bank of the valley down to Laisonnay and then get your skate-skiing game on for the haul back to Champagny le Haut (note please stay to the side of the cross country tracks to avoid cutting these up)!