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easy routes around La Meije for March solo trip

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easy routes around La Meije for March solo trip

Postby mtnbiker converted » Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:13 pm

are there any suitable? i realise glacier travel alone is to be avoided, and that snow conditions may make it impossible (as i dont ski) but i'd love to do a high level trek and some easy solo climbing around this area in March-April (is this getting too late, unstable snow etc?)

i thought of starting at La Berarde, heading to the Prom. hut, over the col de la Meje, and maybe along the east ridge for a while, or just round to the front of the N face of la mieje, along a bit on the snow, then down to la Grave.

ideally i'd like to take a route involving some technical sections that are ok for a solo climber at this time of year (obviously assuming fair weather) but i have no illusions of heroic solo attempts on anything beyond low secondary snow peaks!


i climb to a basic UK trad standard, S to VS at best. i'm just after a lone adventure and some great photo opportunities in the mountains for 3-5 days, using huts as well as a couple of bivis where required.
any info from those who know the area better is very much appreciated.

cheers / merci / danke / gracias!
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Re: easy routes around La Meije for March solo trip

Postby Claude Mauguier » Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:47 pm

"...as i dont ski..." I think this is the problem...:(
The road between St Christophe and La Bérarde is closed during that period, being usually covered with snow and exposed to avalanche hazard. Moreover, late winter/early spring snowfalls could make the trip very dangerous indeed. Oisans group is really different from Mt Blanc : no cablecars (one exception from La Grave, on the N. flank of La Meije : brings you afoot for Pic de la Grave, Dome de la Lauze, etc..ascents, but that would involve long glacier walks), long deep empty valleys to get to the bottom of the most interesting climbs. A good ski technique is obviously compulsory, I think. This is an average opinion about what you usually might have to fight with.

"...and maybe along the east ridge for a while, or just round to the front of the N face of la mieje, along a bit on the snow..."
"east ridge"...? you mean west ridge (of La Meije). And please don't imagine you are to do that...: Brèche de la Meije just walking ! It's a glacier on both sides, steep, crevassed, and not enough snow covered (rain/snow ratio during the last six months is deficient), as to make this program a nightmare. I wouldn't go. But conditions might improve....
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Re: easy routes around La Meije for March solo trip

Postby John Climber » Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:59 pm

mtnbiker converted,

I advise to read my trip report "ESCAPE FROM LA MEIJE" and look to the photos (from January 2005). The first image shows the Brèche de la Meije. As Claude says, there is a Glacier down there, and there are some crevasses (surely SE, at the break zone against the begining of the Promontoire ridge). To the opposite side there is an even bigger and more crevassed glacier. It is dangerous to do that alone.

The, indeed, 'west' ridge (as I supose if you come from La Berarde) is not an easy terrain (seen the first image). La Meije itself is a difficult mountain.

As Claude mentioned, the first half part of the asphalt road to La Berarde (from the first tunnel) has, at least, a dozen of well known high risk avalanche points.

If you are at La Berarde and you sill want to do something there you can try to reach the Chatelleret hut (about 2.400 m), using snow shoes (if you cannot sky). You could try to explore the right (East) branche of the valley direction Barre de Ecrins, but without climbing till the rocky faces (even more difficult terrain than the Brèche de la Meije). If the conditions are good you could even reach the Promontoire Hut (3.000 m aprox.) on the Promontoire Ridge without stepping on the glacier: there are some kind of chains (Via Ferrata?, that I did NOT see) which rise from the upper part of the Chatelleret Valley to the Promontoire Hut over the first part of the ridge...but you are alone. You would have to check how difficult is that climb.

From La Berarde itself there are many other possibilities when walking on Snow shoes.

Have a nice time
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Re: easy routes around La Meije for March solo trip

Postby mtnbiker converted » Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:58 pm

yes west ridge from La Berarde.
i did suspect this was to be a harder proposition than i first thought, a product of a love of this area and a desire to get back there asap, but you're right it would be risky and i don't have the experience to be confident alone here.
yet... :-)

la Meije looks too difficult at the moment, but the mountain fascinates me still, it was the first peak where i really felt that love of the mountains.
Any other advice on this type of trip in this area is most appreciated.

also thanks for pointing out the report john, i read with interest.
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