Barre des Écrins 4101m and Dôme de Neige 4015m
The highest point in the Dauphinè Alps, this beautiful pyramid dominates the glacier and is one of the most coveted ascents in the massif. Imposing, its line of ascent is unmistakable. Dôme de Neige is its highest shoulder and since it can easily reached on skis, most ski mountaineers stop here. This ascent is extremely satisfying, in a very grand and wild setting, far away from all ski lifts.
To the hut: From Briancon reach Prè de Madame Carle (1874m). In winter, the snow conditions might force a lower start. From the car park, follow the path to the Glacier Blanc hut (2550m). Walk across the plateau past a steep face to the edge of the Glacier Blanc. After a steeper section, move right and reach the rocky terrace where the Glacier Blanc hut is located (2550m). It is possible to spend the night here and continue the ascent the next day. Continue North-West along scree slopes, contouring the glacier on the left. At 2900m enter the flat, wide glacier and walk on the right hand side of it to reach the rocky relief where the Écrins hut is located (5 hours). If there are not too many crevasses, it is possible to follow the glacier without going past the Glacier Blanc hut for a shorter approach.
Day two: From the Glacier Blanc hut, descend to the glacier and continue to the base of the mountain. Climb the steep Northern slopes keeping at the base of huge séracs. These could become a problem in high temperatures due to the possibility of ice fall. Continue on steep terrain to reach the base of the final wall, just below the summit. Ice climbing equipment is needed here (slopes at 45/50º). The descent is only possible when the snow covers all surfacing rocks (OSA S5). It is suggested to follow the base of the face to the right, to reach Brèche Lory (3974m), and then the summit of Dome de Neige (4015m). To reach the summit of Barre des Écrins (4101m) follow the complicated West ridge (grade II passages, not pleasant if icy).
As for ascent.
Variation: Along a more scenic and direct couloir from the higher section of Barre. Hard snow conditions due to orientation and wind.
4000m Peaks in the alps. Ski Touring | Steep Skiing. By ViviDolomiti Edizioni www.vividolomiti.it
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