Mountains Calling

Jul 13, 2011

Once again our train tickets showed the destination Briancon. We were going to have three days of hiking and couldn’t wait to get to it!

Warning: Contains a lot of crappy iPhone photos!

Day 1

We started off with a pretty calm day with our already-a-habit-barbeque in Les Ayes. It’s a plateau in the mountains where they allow you to make a fire for grilling. After setting our drinks in a cold stream next to our picnic spot, we headed for an easy walk of couple of hours. First we got to a lake Lac de l'Orceyrette that is normally really beautiful in turquoise color, but since it had rained the day before, it was rather muddy brown. Nevertheless the landscape is always stunning up there!

We walked along a small road that leads to a remote summer cabins that form a tiny “village” Chalets de l'Alp in the end of the road. On the way back we followed a small trail back to our barbeque spot, where my parents had already started to set up the fire for grilling. We had a delicious meal: meat, sausages, salad, break, cheese and ice cold drinks! 


Later that evening we went to a spot where we can overlook the Briancon old town to catch the 14th of July fireworks. Soon the dark skyline was fulfilled with colors and in between the fireworks, the moon was unveiling the mountain range in the background…

Day 2

The next day we decided to go the Vallée de la Clarée and do one of the most scenic and famous summertime hike of the area: Le pic du lac blanc. The peak reaches nearly 3000m and offers great views over the Ecrins national park.

We started in Fontcouverte where the path is climbing steeply as soon as you leave the main road. After 30 minutes we reached the Refuge Ricou at 2115m. We sat there a little while for a beer and continued to push to the Lac Laramon, which took us another half an hour or so. The place was quite crowed so we continued to the next lake, Lac du serpent- the so-called the snake Lake!


The view was opening up and we were able to see Barre des Ecrins at 4102m further away. We could also see the lakes in layers below us, one after another! Bit higher up the landscape changed from marmots and greenery to rocky and rugged mineral land. We got gorgeous views over Lac Blanc and Mont Thabor upon arriving to the ridge that leads to the summit. About 20 minutes later we reached the summit at almost 3000m. 

Day 3

On our last hike we headed to the National Park of Ecrins, home for Glacier Blanc, one of the biggest glaciers remaining. The hike started at Pre de Madame Carl (1800m) and we continued having views over Mount Pelvoux and the impressive Glacier Noir (at almost 4000m) almost all the way up. The higher the path zigzagged, the more we could see of the valley below. The last part of the trail was pretty rocky with steep slopes below. 

After 2h30 we finally arrived to a plateau where we could almost touch the glacier, and in fact some hikers did. Way back when I was younger, I came to this very same spot and the glacier was so much closer to the edge, whereas now it’s withdrawn for hundreds of meters. It’s pretty interesting to see the shrinkage with your own eyes!

After a little rest it was time to head back down. 

{The mountaineers would still continue climbing to reach a refuge that’s 600m above the plateau, from where they usually push to the Barre des Ecrins summit (4102m) the next day.}

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