On our Ecrins alpine rock climbing holiday, we spend a week exploring the wild and remote Ecrins National Park. There are no lifts, fewer crowds than most other alpine areas and some great rock climbs on relatively unfrequented peaks… So be prepared for the walk-ins, but savour the solitude and enjoy the friendly huts in this beautiful corner of the Alps. We aim to warm up by enjoying some mid altitude routes, before getting into position for a superb high level traverse linking 3 different peaks in the second half of the week.
Please visit our Covid-19 Climb Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.
This trip is available on request, on dates to suit you/your team.
This is an intermediate to advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 4 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need to be an experienced rock climber, able to second multi-pitch VS/HVS and have some alpine experience using axe and crampons (for approaches/descents). This is a strenuous week of climbing with the second half being quite demanding and requiring good overall endurance, as well as solid rock climbing ability at HVS. Typical grades are in the range D to TD.
One IFMGA guide climbing with 2 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 4 nights accommodation in valley bases, including breakfast
- 3 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meals
- Local travel in the guide’s vehicle to complete the course itinerary
Excluded from price (see course factsheet for cost estimates)
- Cable cars
- Lunches, drinks and evening meals for 4 nights in the valley
- Travel to resort
- Equipment hire
Our meeting point and course base in Bourg D’Oisans is the friendly Hotel Les Alpes, providing comfortable accommodation, and a convenient location in the centre of town. Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally 3 person) sharing basis, but if you prefer a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability. Evening meals can be taken in one of the many restaurants in Bourg D’Oisans. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
For overnights in the high mountains, we will use mountain huts. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical facilities, average costs to help you budget for lunches/drinks, and general info on hut etiquette.
You should arrange outward travel on Saturday, arriving by 5-6pm latest in time for the briefing at your accommodation. Your guide will run through safety routines and kit checks, as well as hand out any rental equipment for the week, before we go on to a detailed discussion of everyones ambitions for the week, together with the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our planning. We’ll also have maps and guidebooks to show you. If you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up before we head on to dinner. PM Overnight in the valley.
Ascent of a rock route in Bourg D’Oisans region: Eg Les Delices de Notre Dame TD-, 250m – climbing alongside an amazing waterfall in a high alpine valley. An ideal opportunity to refresh skills and warm up. Overnight in Bourg d’Oisans
Drive to La Berarde, do a multipitch route near La Berarde. Eg The Tete de la Maye, Paravalanche etc Many options to choose from around 6-10 pitches in length. Overnight in Bourg/La Berarde.
Approach day – walk to Chatelleret hut, and the start of an amazing three day enchainment linking 3 high alpine rock routes in 3 different valleys.
Ascent of Pillier Cheze on Tete Sud du Replat (3428m), D-. A superb high mountain rock route to a great viewpoint. Descend normal route to the Selle hut in the beautiful ‘Vallon du Diable’. Overnight in Selle hut
Ascent of North Ridge of Pointe d’Amont (3338m), D. A striking line on good rock in an austere setting above the Glacier du Diable. Descend south side of peak to the Soreiller hut.
Ascent of the famous Madier route on the areas premier rock climbing peak – the Aiguille Dibona (3131m), TD-. Return to La Berarde and Bourg d’Oisans. Overnight in Bourg.
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.
There is a lot of scope to vary the itinerary, to make it easier or more involved, and to spend extra time in huts if nec. On the traverse, an easier variant would be an ascent of Pic Geny, descending to the Soreiller hut, climbing the Dibona by an easier route, and staying an extra night in the Soreiller hut to tackle a route on the Tete Rouget. Other areas within driving distance offer further scope eg the limestone Massif des Cerces north of the Ecrins national park, and the Ailfroide region on the opposite side of the park. The itinerary can be altered to suit weather/conditions and ability of the group.
Your course starts and finishes in Bourg D’Oisans, on the North West side of the beautiful Ecrins National Park. The main access points for climbing in the Ecrins are La Berard, just 30 mins away from our meeting point in Bourg, La Grave (30 mins), and Valloise/Ailfroide on the Eastern side of the range (2 hours). During this trip you may visit all of these bases, depending on weather, conditions and route choice/preference. The most common way to reach Bourg D’Oisans (BDO) is to fly, then airport transfer to Grenoble centre, then a bus or taxi from Grenoble centre to BDO.
Flights and transfers
- Fly to Lyon: check Skyscanner airline comparison site for best options.
- Bus from Grenoble Gare Routiere to BDO (there are 7 buses a day): www.transisere.fr NB: The bus stop is a few minutes’ walk from the station/Gare Routiere (see map on Transisere website). The last bus on a Saturday leaves Grenoble at 19.25.
- Train from Lyon airport terminal to Grenoble Gare Routiere: www.voyages-sncf.com/billet-train/horaires.
For flights and other travel options, including train, coach and driving, visit our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3, and Tech Level 4 (as appropriate for the style of climbing on this trip ie Alpine, rock climbing or ice climbing).
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hour hillwalk, 50 mile cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. Eg: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted.
Tech Level 4
Experienced climber. Leading multi pitch trad rock climbs at VS – HVS / multi pitch winter climbs to Scottish grade 4 / alpine peaks at AD – D standard. If you mainly climb with guides or seldom lead climb, you have extensive experience seconding at this standard.
To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.
Summer Alpine Kit List
Above all, alpine climbing kit needs to do the job, but be as light as possible. We work with various manufacturers including Arc’teryx, whose products we can thoroughly recommend.
- Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
- Overtrousers – with long side zips
- Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
- Gaiters – made from breathable material (or trim fitting trousers with ankle volume adjuster)
- Wicking thermal tops – long sleeved and light colour is ideal!
- Fleece mid layer – or equivalent light insulating layer
- Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight windproof softshell model
- Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
- Warm insulated gloves – wind and waterproof
- Warm hat – must fit under a helmet
- Spare warm layer – fleece or lightweight synthetic belay jacket
- Water Container – at least 1 litre
- Headtorch and batteries
- Map, compass and whistle (optional, but a good idea)
- Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, painkillers etc
- Sun Glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Goggles – for windy/snowy conditions
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Sun hat
- Wallet and passport
- Alpine Club/BMC card (if you are a member) and insurance docs
Hut Overnight Items
- Small wash kit
- Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
- Silk sheet sleeping bag liner
- Ear plugs
- (Hut slippers for indoor use, and blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)
- Rucsac – 35/45l is perfect for general use
- Rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch rock routes (for technical courses/private guiding)
- *Rigid mountaineering boots – Axe, Boot and Crampon advice
- Rock boots – must be comfortable enough to wear for several hours (can be hired in resort if nec)
- Approach shoes or trainers
- Trekking poles
- Harness, locking karabiner and belay device
- 2 prussik loops + karabiner – if in doubt, bring 3m of 6mm climbing cord!
- 120cm sling + locking karabiner
- Climbing helmet
- Crampons with antiball plates
- Ice Axe classic type for intro and general mountaineering courses
- Technical Ice Axe and Hammer – required for parts of the Tech Alpine/Cham Alpinist/Ice and Mixed/North Faces courses
Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.
*Boots: These are VERY important to the success of your trip! Its best to have your own boots and break them in well before the start of the trip – see advice below.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website or our blog for equipment advice. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent mountain boot fitting service and general equipment advice.
Please see our Equipment Hire page for more details.
For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for climbing and mountaineering activities as outlined in the course itinerary. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury. Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Please find further details on our insurance info page.