OverviewNice ascent up the les Bans. Well worth the long walk to the pilatte hut.
Before you leave you can check up with the weather report at the local police station, not the bureau des guides!
Supplies for your tour are better bought in the valley because in la berarde it is expensive. They have nice fresh bread every morning though.
Getting ThereFrom the parking at La Berarde walk to the refuge de la Pilatte ~3h. It is a long way with nice views of the Ailefroide occidentale (glacier long) and the Barre des Ecrins.
At the hut you can play jeu de boules with the best views of any jeu de boule playground I have ever seen. Use the light you still have to plan your route over the complicated glacier. Ask the guardian for the descent route as it is not to obvious once you're there.
Route DescriptionBreakfast at three o'clock. The route to the glacier is well marked. On the glacier it is tempting (as we did) to turn right to early. This adds some interesting ice-climbing to your day. To the foor of the pillar it will take you about two hours.
Getting on the rock and crossing the rimaye is recommended on the left of the pillar in the guidebook. We started on the right. After this the rock is grade III/IV al the way to the top 4h,450m.
From the northern summit you have a nice view and the south summit seems very close. However, this is still 1h-1,5h climbing over a few towers. From above you can now see the glacier and admire the routefinding skills you displayed that morning.
From the summit the descent is not to obvious but directions from the guardian are helpfull. You go down the normal route untill some schlings appear on your left in a little breche. Abseil down this (2x) on the left side. Downclimbing grade II untill you find the schlings to abseil to the glacier over the bergschrund.
Essential GearCrampons, ice axe, double rope (60m), a full rack, schlings and a few quickdraws.
External LinksNice description of the route although in french.
Ecrins ascensions choisies a book with selected climbs of AD and D difficulty in the ecrins