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Alps July 2011

Planning page for CUHWC trip to the Alps, July 2011


Might be booking trains soon - keep a look out here if you want to know details - SEE BELOW


Ecrins National Park, southeast France.

This is a good page about the St Christophe en Oisans-La Berarde valley (a likely base), including information on facilities, via ferrata and walk ideas (from 1-hour strolls to 'long' walks, 'strenuous' walks and multi-day tours).

This is the equivalent page for Ailefroide (another possible base) - though it keeps crashing (or is that just me?)


4th-19th July (this is flexible depending on transport options and everyone's availability - and obviously you're welcome to come for just part of the time)

  • It's about 50% cheaper by train if you travel on the Monday or Friday rather than the Sunday.


Add your name here, along with a vague indication of interest/commitment level, dates if you know them, and what kind of thing you'd want to do (any and all activities can be covered, as long as there are enough people wanting to do them!)

  • Dave - Will be going for above dates. Will be biving on rock and glacier routes. Possibly some non-odd walking too.

  • Jo - definite. Keen for mountaineering routes up peaks, either rock or glacier/snow. Especially Barre des Ecrins. Happy to bivi or stay in huts when away from valley. Probably the odd walk too.

  • James - Almost certainly. Want to do mountaineering routes, would quite like to try a longish snow/ice route like this, but would be happy with rock and glacier routes as well. Might not be in condition at that time anyway. Would prefer to bivi to keep costs down.

  • Doug - also pretty definite, keen for all the same stuff as Jo really, keen for some long rock routes, also keen to bivi to keep costs down. Possibly arriving one day late and leaving 1-2 days early.

  • Matt - keen but unsure as of yet depending on whether and when I manage to get a job over the summer. Also would prefer to bivi in terms of costs and would be up for rock + glacier mountaineering routes.

  • Joe - still trying to find employment. Keen for pretty much anything and to bivi to keep costs down.

  • Jeremy - definite, Alpin-ISM course 3-10 July then joining after for a week, keen for anything/everything.

  • Kirsty - well I'd be very interested in coming, but currently only able to walk (odd and non-odd...) or maybe do the easiest mountaineering routes - would be up for anything which others are willing to teach me the necessary skills for...In general, the lower the costs, the better. Free anytime from 1st July onwards at the moment.

  • Jane - MAYBE.

  • Dave M - definite maybe at the moment. In a fairly similar position to Kirsty at the moment. Keen to keep cost down. Have not done the ISM course and can't really afford to. Summer work dates not set yet, but have to be back in UK by "mid-july"


Valley base:

3 possibilities: La Grave, La Berarde, Ailefroide. Discuss...

I'm thinking La Berarde, for no good reason other than it's easier to get to than Ailefroide, and is better located than La Grave. Dave

  • La Berarde is most central in terms of mountains.

  • La Grave seems to be a bigger, more established place but not so well-placed for the mountains

  • Ailefroide has lots of valley rock climbing in addition to mountain routes at a range of grades. Ailefroide is hardest to get to but best for Barre des Ecrins (I think). It will take about 3-4 hrs longer to get to Ailefroide than La Berarde, but could still be done in a day.

  • UKC Crag maps for http://Ailefroide , http://La Grave and http://La Berarde.


  • JS & dsf29 are booked on the following trains: Mon 4th July: 07.22 Eurostar London to Paris; 11.38 TGV Paris to Grenoble; Tue 19th July: 12.05 TGV Grenoble to Paris, 17.13 Eurostar to London

  • JR booked on 0525 Eurostar on 30th of June, carriage 17, seat 84. Will book on same TGV as JH and MG. Travelling down to London from Glasgow the night before, will sleep in St Pancras. Will be staying on in France afterwards.

  • JH and MG are booked on the 0653 Eurostar and 1138 TGV on Thursday 30th June. Returning on 1322 TGV and 2113 Eurostar on Saturday 16th July. We will be travelling no less than FIRST CLASS! We're going a bit early as we want to be back for a Monday just in case we find work :-(. Feel free to join us as Matthew might get fed up of me otherwise.

  • DH booked on following trains: Mon 4th July: 0448 Cambridge to London (arriving St Pancras 0620), 0722 Eurostar London to Paris (same as JS and DSF), 1138 TGV Paris to Grenoble; Saturday 16th July: 1205 TGV Grenoble to Paris, 1713 Eurostar Paris to London

  • JL booked to fly to Geneva Sunday 3rd July. ISM student week 3-10th, train to Geneva then bus to Grenoble. Combing back same train as dsf29 and JS.

  • Kirsty booked on bus 16:00 Victoria to Grenoble, arriving 9am on 2nd July. Open return but probably staying in la Berarde until ~16th and then working in a hut in le Massif de l'Oisans for ~2 weeks.

  • Dave M, 16:00 Victoria to Grenoble bus on friday 1st July. Arrive Grenoble 9am on 2nd. Only staying first week, travelling back on 10th/11th

General Info

Nearest transport hub is Grenoble - flights, trains and coaches should be easy enough to get here! Transport then depends which valley base we are in, so we should decide that fairly soon, but things can be booked as far as Grenoble anyway. [No direct flights to Grenoble out of ski season.]

Flights to Geneva with 20kg bag are about £110ish (for ISM course), but trains from there to Grenoble are quite expensive. - coach from Geneva to Grenoble available - 2 hrs Timetable and prices

Apparently a bus runs from Grenoble to La Berarde 4 times a day throughout July - I can't find timetables though. Taxi might also be a possibility, especially if we arrive too late for the last bus - there seem to be lots of companies and it's probably quite cost-effective if we fill them.

  • Bus timetable here DM
  • Cost is 5.90 euros for youths (sub 25 I think)

To get to Ailefroide you take a regional train (SNCF) to L'Argentiere les Ecrins (or la Bessee; I think they're the same place). This takes about 3.5 hrs from Grenoble (there are also other routes from Paris/other stations which take about the same overall time). Taxi from there is probably our best bet again (there may be a shuttle)

  • According to UKC there are enough climbers driving up and down from Ailefroide to make hitching from L'Argentire les Ecrins a viable option. Might be a good choice for people travelling on separate days from the main group.

Things to take


Map - Can be bought out there. Guidebook. Dave has one, can be picked up in London shops. Too late to order online. Everyone doing any snow routes (Facile +) needs crampons, axe, helmet, harness
Anyone doing any rock routes (valley sport or PD +) needs belay plate + krab, sling + krab, helmet, harness.


Jo and Dave sorted.


Jo - pot and stove (will only bring if enough space or someone else takes it)
Dave - stove and pots
A bunsen burner type stove may be useful for the mountaineering days.

Dave M - two small pots (have small on top stove, but intending to share stove with joe, so will not bring unless told to asap!)

Matt - stove plus mid size pot and frying pan.

Doug - seems there's plenty of pots so I won't bring mine, I will bring my small gas burner as it doens't take up any space and may come in useful if anyone's breaks or we bivi.


Bivi bag will allow cheap accommodation and a few people seem to be doing this. Alpkit hunka is cheaper than one hut night. French huts have a reputation. It is the opposite reputation to Swiss huts.

Jo - alpine rack
Dave - rope
Matt - rack + rope (Emma kit)
Doug - Unless told otherwise I will bring the same as Matt - Emma rope + Emma rack (I know with James's rope this makes more than the 3 Dave F mentioned, but this may be useful if we all go sport climbing one day, and Dave's calculations may have been before we knew Andrena was coming)
Kirsty - Emma rack

By Dave's reckoning if everyone is out on a their hardest grade we need 3 ropes and 3 racks, and this will satisfy all other options as well.

Excess gear that can be taken if needed

Jo - alpine rack