Ecrins - alpine guidebook/route suggestions

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 it624 07 May 2024

Heading down to the Écrins in June, and while I'm aware of the Rockfax for Ailefroide, and own a copy of the (slighty-poorly-translated) Écrins 4102 book that covers routes up the Barre, I'm wondering if there's any other guides for the area that cover the alpine routes? My French is reasonable, so I'm happy to deal with self-translating if necessary.

Whether or not that exists, does anyone have any suggestions for routes up to AD+ in the area? (or even D if they aren't super-committing) More interested in things on rock than couloirs/similar both because my climbing partner isn't the most experienced on snow/ice, and because, y'know, unreliable Alpine summer snow conditions...

 Jesse Nagel 07 May 2024
In reply to it624:

The Oisans Nouveau Oisans Sauvage guidebooks by Gambon are legendary and should contain everything there is to do on rock in the Écrins(and many a rant about his rivals which will test your French). Both sport and alpine rock routes at most grades.

There is a west and an east version, so you'll have to check which one to get depending on where you'll be stationed. is also decent around those parts as an extra source for alpine routes.

Post edited at 10:17
 LakesWinter 07 May 2024
In reply to it624:

There's a reasonably up to date book called Classic Routes in the Ecrins by Sebastian Constant which covers summer Alpine routes in the easier grades. It doesn't really cover the classic rock routes, it's more of an alpine climbing guide.

 AndrewB121 07 May 2024
In reply to it624:

I recommend the following routes:

The first two are fairly exposed but easy ridge traverses, and the second two are technically harder but well protected rock routes. I went with a friend as our first trip to the Alps last year and really enjoyed all of them. There are a few others we did, but those are the standouts. Apart from Cineastes they all felt very remote, we never saw anyone else on the routes. Also make sure you try some of the Ailefroide multipitch sport, it's very good. 

In terms of guidebooks, we had the "Mountaineering in the Ecrins Massif: Classic Snow, Rock & Mixed Climbs" book by Chevaillot. It had some good routes in it, but apart from the Barre the snow conditions weren't good enough to attempt any of the other routes when we were there (September), we ended up just doing rock routes. Camp to Camp was detailed enough for all the routes we did, however I had a look through the Gambon and Constant guidebooks recommended above when in huts, and they seemed really good. 

Also, when we were there the whole Pelvoux valley (used to access the Ailefroide, Pic sans Nom, and Pelvoux mountains) and the Sele/Pelvoux huts were closed due to a large rockfall, preventing us from doing any of those routes. It may be worth checking if they have reopened this season before you make any plans to attempt them. 

Post edited at 15:41
 HardenClimber 07 May 2024
In reply to AndrewB121:

The Pelvoux Refuge say the Path is okay. The Path to the Sele will be modified (I think you will go much further up towards the Pelvoux before heading up the valley)

In reply to it624:

There has been a lot of snow this season, with much of it in the past five weeks. As such, many of the snow and easier ice routes are currently in good condition. Classic alpinism should be good.Have a look at web cams and

Pic Nord des Cavales has excellent solid granite - east face is above VS

Aiguille Dibona South face is a must (VSish)

Aiguille d'Sialouze on granite is well recommended, but a bit harder.

Les Bans south face and Contreforts les Bans now have bolted rock routes onand are well worth a look.

Have fun!

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