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TouringTip | Tour de la Meije

Varied 2-day tour through the glacier world of the Ecrins National Park

by Adrian Sauter 02/03/2018
The mythical mountain peak of la Meije lends itself to a lift-supported and varied tour in late winter. In the heart of the Western Alps, the 2-day tour leads through steep gullies and a rugged glacier landscape. The route requires frequent changes from ski to carrying passages and, depending on the snow conditions, also offers some technical passages. However, due to its sensational descents over the Glacier de l'Homme, it has more than earned the title of TouringTip.

Day 1

The starting point is the valley station of La Grave. After catching one of the first gondolas, you get off at 3200 m. Depending on the conditions, you can ski up to the Col de la Girose or take the slightly less steep option via the drag lift to the Col de la Lauze. In poor snow conditions, it may be advisable to abseil down or descend by foot part of the "Couloir de la Girose". The existing anchor here are sometimes difficult to reach in bad winters. You should therefore find out about the conditions beforehand. The same applies to the "Brèche du Râteau", which is reached via the descent to the la Selle glacier. This crossing is almost snow-free late in the season, so a few meters have to be climbed. On the east side, you then descend into the Etancons valley. Here, too, you either have to ski down as early as possible or descend a few meters in icy conditions. Afterwards, skins are put on and the route is moderately steep to the "Refuge Promontoire", where you can open a beer. It is advisable to find out about the conditions from the hut owner Frédi in advance and reserve one of the coveted places in good time. With the fireplace flickering and the sound of guitars, it's easy to forget that you're at over 3,000 meters.

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Day 2

Early the next day, we head up to the "Brèche de la Meije" with headlamps and skis. After you have mastered the last few meters with crampons and ice axe, an impressive view of the rugged Glacier de la Meije opens up. Descend to the north or abseil down more quickly to then descend below the north face of La Meije. You should always keep to the right and not descend too deep over the confusing La Meije glacier, as there are many crevasses and seracs lurking here.

Keeping to the right, you then ski another 200 vertical meters to the start of the Serret de Savon. This never-ending tube is extremely steep and certainly one of the key sections of the tour in hard snow conditions. However, once you have completed it, the easy ascent to the legendary "Refuge de l'Aigle" awaits with a fantastic view. This spectacular mountain hut is well-equipped and is a great starting point for a multi-day tour and for climbing la Meije Oriental.

Now you have to choose between two fantastic downhill options. The descent via the "Glacier du Tabuchet" directly to la Grave or via the "Glacier de l'Homme" to "Pont d'Arsine". This option is preferable when there is little snow due to the shorter carrying passage. It is advisable to leave early enough in spring to catch good firn. With a bit of luck, you can then hitch a ride back to the starting point.


Difficulty: ****
Special dangers: crevasses, seracs, danger of falling in hard snow
Exposures: N-O-S-W
Altitude start and finish: 3,211 m, 1.718m
Altitude difference uphill and downhill: Day 1: 1000 m | 1200 m Day 2: 700 m | 2100 m
Duration: 2 days
Best time of year: March to May
How to get there: From Grenoble to la Grave to the valley station
Topographic maps: Carte IGN Meije Pelvoux Parc Nation des Ecrins 3436 ET

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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