Southern French Alps mountaineering has become very popular in the last few years with the Ecrins mountain range becoming the 2nd most popular in France after the Mont Blanc range. The Ecrins range is famous in the mountaineering world for the Barre des Ecrins (4102m), La Meije (3987m) and Mont Pelvoux (3946m) plus a lot more.
Southern French Alps mountaineering
They are fabulous mountains and it is certainly an experience of a lifetime to summit any one of them. However, their popularity is also their own worst enemy! Alpinists from all over the world flock here to enjoy Southern French Alps mountaineering in the Ecrins.
The refuges that serve as halfway houses to make these summits climbable are full to bursting with climbers and mountaineers from June to September and often it is hard to get a place! Some refuges host more than 200 people, all of whom you will be sharing the summit with the next day.
It’s a far cry from mountaineering a few decades ago when only the most experienced of alpinists would even consider reaching the top of these mountains!
Off the beaten track in the Ecrins
The good news is that there are lots of other peaks in the Ecrins that are equally majestic and companies such as Undiscovered Mountains can help you find them. Climbs with beautiful ascents, technical glaciers and spectacular views across the Alps, that are off the beaten track and will allow you to experience Southern French Alps mountaineering as it should be.
Have you ever heard of Les Rouies 3589m or Le Sirac 3444m or the Olan at 3564m?
Their slightly lower altitude immediately removes them from the radar of 4000m summit baggers and their prestige in the name dropping world of mountaineering is much more niche! For purists and alpinists who prefer to experience the beauty and serenity of mountaineering as it was before it became fashionable, this is great news!
On the Olan you can stay in an authentic alpine refuge dating back to the 70s with an equally authentic character of a guardian who will welcome you like a king to do the Olan. The ‘voie normal’ of the Olan is a technical glacier crossing with an exposed ridge climb to the summit on good rock and with spectacular views across the whole of the Ecrins.
For Les Rouies, the technical level is a bit easier with a classic glacier crossing and easy climb to the summit. This is a great first mountaineering conquest for a novice alpinist with a good level of fitness. The refuge is a friendly CAF refuge recently refurbished with modern comforts including duvets!!
The Sirac is of a similar technical level to the Olan with a small technical glacier to cross, a beautiful but quite easy rock climb and an eventual arrival on a serrated ridge summit!
If you want to go mountaineering off the beaten track in the Ecrins, please contact Sally at Undiscovered Mountains on +44 (0)345 009 8401 or email@example.com. Undiscovered Mountains can tailor make a mountaineering holiday or you can join one of their group trips such as their mountaineering off the beaten track trip which includes the three summits featured above.
Undiscovered Mountains also offer many other trips such as white water kayaking in the Southern French Alps and winter activities like ice climbing. They can also create the best ski holiday in France for those looking for a flexible multi activity break.
Hopefully we will see you on a Southern French Alps mountaineering holiday in the Ecrins this summer.