A very complete but easy climb.
Though easy the descent presents a lot of minor difficulties that take time to be negociated. Only a very competent and fast party can achieve the route in less than 8 hours; with a couple of breaks we suggest to plan on 12 hours.
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From the Pelvoux Hut take North and climb easy rocks untill the base of the Clot de l'Homme glacier. At this point head West, cross the "Bosse de Sialouze" and get to the base of the Coolidge couloir. Get in the couloir; after about 45 minutes of easy climbing on a 35 degree snow/ice slope you will get to the Pelvoux glacier at about 3800m of height, take on the left direction NW. The "Pointe Puiseux", the summit of Mont Pelvoux is at about 15 minutes of easy trekking.
For the descent it is necessary the party gets on a rope with all the required equipment (and training) for crevasse rescue. From the summit take direction E on the Pelvoux Glacier, at about 3700m change direction N to the Violettes Glacier (it is the same glacier that changes name), cross some evident crevasses untill you get to the first (easy) abseil. This point can actually down-climbed without any major difficulty (grade II).
Continue N over easy snow and get to the rock shoulder of the glacier (GPS UTM-WGS84 295.62, 4975.61), walk on easy ridge (unstable rocks) and get to the point of abseil. Some slings are on place but you might want to check the state of the gear. From this point Abseil on the lower section of the Violettes Glacier; the abseil is easy but quite long.
Head SE and cross the glacier; as a consequence of the collapse of the glacier expect in late summer to climb about 10m to get out of the glacier on its rock shoulder; the rock in this point is of poor quality, take some care. At this point easy abseil again and get again on snow, continue SE to the last abseil (GPS UTM-WGS84 296.00, 4975.12). Take the extreme care on this point, expecially after a sunny day. The rock is of poor quality and a lot of water flows down after a sunny day. Abseil here with the addedd security of a prusik on the rope.
Once again on the snow walk on the left side of the "Névé Pelissier", traverse the moraine untill an evident footpath is not found on grass field. Follow the trail untill 2050m (small stream), take right and traverse easy rocks and slabs (Vires d'Ailefroide) to get again to the village of Ailefroide. From the stream to the village there are about 45 minutes of easy scramble (grade II).
Following the global warming it is not possible anymore to cross directly the Violettes Glacier; it is necessary to abseil on the side of the glacier to a zone of the ice-field now occupied by vast crevasses. Also the reduction of glacier's thickness makes necessary to abseil over a distance that gets in the years bigger and bigger. At the time we write (July 2006) we reccomand to bring at least 70 meters of rope to reduce the amount of time spent abseilling.
Essential gear are: helmet, crampons, rope and a non technical ice-axe.
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