Rock Climbing

February 11, 2019

Rock Climbing in the Écrins

The Ecrins, Briançon and the Queyras is a mecca for rock climbing, there is such a wide range of climbing with hundreds of crags and thousands of routes ranging from 3's to 9's.

Its such a special place as there are 6 different rock types - limestone, Granite, Conglomerate, Quartzite, Gabbro and Gneiss, and has all the features from big overhanging caves to long multpitch slab routes,

You can choose between world class bouldering in Ailefroide, lower valley single pitch routes or big 650m big walls.

Here are some of my favourite places to climb.


This valley is a world famous climbing area, based in a stunning valley surrounded by high Granite rock faces and behind it the high mountain peaks of Pelvoux 3946m and the Barre des Écrins 4102m. This is the gateway to the Écrins mountains, it's a perfect place for climbers whether that is bouldering on the many boulders nestled in the woods such as the mushroom, learning the ropes on the easy single pitch slab routes at the sector école, tackling the test piece routes at Face bouc, or one of the many 300+ big multi pitch routes. It is a venue you will love.

Rocher Barron

This is a popular quartzite climbing area made up of three sectors, 2 and 3 being the most visited. Sector 3 is an amazing place you can park right next to the crag (forest track road in) and for the beginner/intermediate climber it is a perfect venue with great rock, well bolted with grades from 4a - 6c and the routes are fantastic.

Sector two steps it up a bit with routes from 5c - 7c all the routes in this sector are of a good quality. Sector one is a little bit of a walk-in 10 mins, which involves a little scrabble. The crag is on a ledge so care is needed with children, but the routes are of good quality all in the 6 grade, with stunning views down the valley and normally a slight breeze to cool you down.

La Grotte Oréac

High on a mountain side this big cave is a great place to climb, a venue to test your arms, you want to be climbing in the 7's to make the most of this venue, and the walk in isn't the easiest but it's worth it for the great location and big routes.

Mont Dauphine Fort

This amazing crag is found below the Vauban fortress built in 1693, the fort is a UNESCO world heritage site worth a visit on it's own.

The climbing here is on conglomerate rock made up of small pockets and pebbles that stick out, it has grades from 3c -7c+ and 14 sectors which spread round the base of the fort offering all directions so you can choose sun or shade as you need.


Briançon Climbs - Jean-Jacques Rolland & family

This is the sports climbing guide that covers all the single pitch sports routes and quite a few of the multi pitch bolted routes, it contains 350 pages covering 80 crags most with more than one sector, it offers colour photo topo's and is easy to follow.

Ailefroide Climbs - Jean-Michel Cambon

This is the exclusive guide to Ailefroide covering all the single pitch and multi pitch routes, it contains 160 pages using mainly colour photo topo's and pitch descriptions a great resource if your are just planning to stay in Ailefroide, available in French and English versions.

Oisons Nouveau Oisans Sauvage Livre Est - Jean-Michel Cambon

This is the alpine rock and multi pitch guide book with 384 page of mainly colour photo topo's and the odd drawings, it covers all the high mountain rock routes and the lower multi pitch routes and areas such as the Écrins national park, the Tenailles and the Cerces. It's only available in French and the text can be a bit confusing, it is worth noting that the star system in the book is not on the quality of the route but the standard of the bolting, 1 star is fully bolted (mountain bolted) and 4 star is full trad.

Topo des Blocs Ailefroide

This is the bouldering guide to Ailefroide with 66 pages covering 17 areas using colour photo topo's to help identify the problems on the boulders, but it can be a bit tricky to find the boulders from the main maps, especially some of the less popular ones.

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