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Barre des Ecrins – Commemoration of Whymper ascent

Barre des Ecrins – Commemoration of Whymper ascent

Edward Whymper did the first ascent of Barre des Ecrins (Alps of the Dauphiné) in 1864.

Whymper original illustrations of the Barre Ecrins (1873) and the up-to-date illustrations of snow and mixed climbs (2010)

Edward Whymper, but also WAB Cooldidge shared their experiences of exploration in the Ecrins: they wrote descriptions of their ascents and journeys. I was honored to follow their tracks when I decided to publish the first volume of Snow and Mixed Climbs in English (2010). For a french climber, mountain guide and geographer by training, that was a great challenge. Patience and experience helped me so much to manage with this unprobable project.

With the King’s College London Mountaineering Club, we’ve been scrambling in the Glacier Blanc Basin; This was an uncommon dedication of the 150th years anniversary of the first ascent of Barre des Ecrins.

Barre des Ecrins is the main summit of the Ecrins Range. Great panorama of Dome and Barre des Ecrins from the normal route of Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (famous and easy peak of Glacier Blanc Basin).

Mixed scrambling with the « KCLMC », close to the final ridge of pic du Glacier d’Arsine – normal route (Ecrins Range / Massif des Ecrins)

Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (Ecrins Range – Massif des Ecrins). King’s College of London Mountaneering Club is on the summit. Just behind the Barre des Ecrins climbed 150 years before by Moore-Whymper.

Normal route of Pic du Glacier Blanc (Alps of Dauphiné – Ecrins Range), with KCLMC. A perfect summit to get involved to alpine mountaineering.

Alpine journey on Pic du Glacier Blanc.

so in 1864, Adolphus Warburton Moore and Edward Whymper and, figures of the golden age of Alpinism, planned together to do an attempt on « Pointe des Ecrins » (now called Barre des Ecrins). Whymper could use the precious information from Francis Fox Tuckett (has provided in 1862 the famous map of Centrak Alps of Dauphiné). He also engaged Michel Croz as a guide, who already did an attempt in the summer 1861. The ascent was an epic adventure, and all the team finally decided to follow the East ridge to explore a descent solution.

147 years separate the original French Edition of Scrambles in the Alps from Whymper (1873) and The Modern guidebook Snow and Mixed Climbs from Seb Constant (2010)

Nowadays, the ascent of « Pointe des Ecrins » (Barre des Ecrins) is still not an ordinary entreprise. It requieres a good scrambling & climbing experience (aerial mixed ridge). The routes are described in the guide book I’ve published in 2010 : Snow and mixed climbs, 344 routes, alpinism and ski mountaineering – Volume 1, Ecrins East, Cerces, Queyras.

Book: Edward Whymper (1871), Scrambles amongs the Alps (Ascensions dans les Alpes pour la version française de 1873, Ed. Hachette, Paris, 432p + 16 cartes).

 

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