Entre les Aygues - Refuge des Bans, Ecrins
Country - France
Region - Haute Alpes (05) - Vallee de la Vallouise - Ecrins NP
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.0 km / 5 miles
Ascent - 500 metres / 1650 feet
Descent - 500 metres / 1650 feet
Time - 3.50 hours
This is a good walk for a half day excursion into the mountains. It is an lineear walk with an objective of visiting a refuge that is located within a dramatic cirque of mountains. The path is well trodden and navigation should present few problems unless of course visibility is low.
The start is fairly large car park at Entre les Aygues which is located at the western end of a minor road along the Val de l'Onde from the town of Vallouise. The drive along this valley is a pleasant experience that provides a taste of what the walk will offer.
After parking walk to the western end of the car park and locate the path heading up the valley. Do not cross the footbridge across the River Onde or follow the path rising in zigzags to your right but continue ahead on level ground through larch trees with the river on your left.
Little description is needed apart from saying that the path ahead is generally easy to follow and with well designed zigzags the height gain necessary to reach the refuge is not too strenuous. After approximately 45 minutes you will probably see the refuge perched high on a crag on the right hand side of the valley.
However there is still plenty of ascent to be completed. The path continues to follow the river and as the refuge is reached climbs more steeply as you follow a looped approach to reach the refuge from the rear.
A variety of refreshments are available and it is worthwhile spending time to enjoy the location. Rock, snow and ice prevail even in summer with Pic des Aupillous (3505m) dominating the skyline. All that remains is to retrace your steps following the outward route back to Entre des Aygues. The return is still rewarding as you are ale to enjoy magnificent mountain scenery all the way back to the car gaining a different perspective than that enjoyed on the outward leg of the walk.
- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Meije Pelvoux - Parc National des Ecrins - 1:25000 Sheet 3436ET
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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