The Sirac is a magnificent mountain to look at with it's corrugated ridge and is equally magnificent to climb.
Starting altitude: 2271m
Summit altitude: 3440m
Average walking time: 7 - 8 hours (5 - 6 hours up and 3 - 4 hours down)
Alpinism Grade: PD - peu difficile
Another early morning alpine start from the refuge Vallonpierre. As you are stumbling over the rocks in the dark on your way towards the start of the route and wondering how on earth the guide knows which way to go, you may again experience that 'what on earth am I doing here' feeling but this time you'll know it is going to be worth it. The start of another adventure in the mountains!
The traverse over rough terrain finally ends at a wall of solid rock! This is where your climb really starts. The first part is a scramble up a pretty cliff - a pleasure to climb. The cliff then gives way to a section of large blocks separated by short scrambles and climbs.
Then you arrive at a reasonably steep but small glacier which you cross to gain access to the next part of the route. Sometimes the bergschrund between the glacier and the main face can be quite difficult to negotiate but your guide will give you good advice and protect you.
The route is varied and interesting - a mix between scrambling and climbing (grade 4a - 4b) over short sections. It is made particularly interesting in big boots but the rock is good and there are big foot and hand holds.
The last section is a dramatic, very exposed and airy ridge which you follow up to the summit. This gives you absolutely splendid views but you are better off concentrating on your scrambling before getting too carried away in that high mountain bliss.
Wait til you get to the summit before you really relax and drink in the ambiance in relative safety!! Again the way down is the same but feels totally different coming down than it felt going up! A hot lunch will be waiting for you at the Vallonpierre before you finish your journey back down to the valley.
The Olan is one of the most prestigious mountains of the Oisans and the Ecrins thanks to its famous north face, over 1200m of pure cliff face with some of the most difficult climbing routes in the Alps.
We are taking the south facing which is slightly less intimidating but still 6 - 700 metres of climbing and scrambling over excellent gneiss (metamorphic) rock in a real high mountain atmosphere with a very exposed ridge scramble / climb at the end - a joy to climb.
Starting altitude: 2344m
Summit altitude: 3564m
Average walking time: 8 - 9 hours (5 - 6 hours up and 3 - 4 hours down)
Alpinism Grade: PD - peu difficile
Another alpine start at 4 in the morning and traverse in the dark over mixed terrain until you reach the glacier. The glacier is not too technical at the start, however becomes quite steep at the end and there are some crevasses so care is needed.
You leave the glacier by a 40 m long climbing pitch (grade 3) which brings you up to a nice little terrace which you use to traverse the face. This brings you to the bottom of a couloir which you climb up to get to the east ridge. This is the scariest part of the route - it is an extremely exposed ridge which peaks and troughs along to the summit - some scrambling and some climbing (grade 3).
The final part gives you some respite from the exposure with a chimney to work your way up and then on to a nice slab to the north summit!
After this significant mental and technical challenge, the breathtaking views are even more magical!
There are a few choices for coming back down - you can either come back down the way you came or take the col between the north summit and the central summit which leads you down a snowy couloir (about 150m). When this becomes steep you go east along a little path until you rejoin the voie normale that you came up on.