Pré de Madame Carle - Glacier Noir, Ecrins
Country - France
Region - Haute Alpes (05) - Vallee de la Vallouise - Ecrins NP
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.0 km / 5 miles
Ascent - 630 metres / 2079 feet
Descent - 630 metres / 2079 feet
Time - 4.00 hours
This straighforward walk starts from the wide flat galcial plain of Pré de Madame Carle and after crossing the river follows the northern moraine of the Glacier Noir into a superb mountain cirque at just above the 2500 metre contour. As with any walk along a glacial moraine care is needed as crumbling edges are common and with the retreat of glaciers due to global warming it can be a long way down to the ice!
The route is an out and back walk that starts from the large cap park at Pré de Madama Carle. A National Park Centre, toilets and a refuge serving a wide range of food and refreshments can all be found around the trail head. Follow the wide path north to cross the river. This vantage point provides an excellent view upstream to the Glacier Noir and you get a preview of the wild scenery that is encountered on this walk.
Continue along the wide path and begin the acsend. Reaching a path junction turn left and follow a distinct but somewhat narrower path that ascends at a relatively gentle angle onto the moraine. As mentioned before, moraines do crumble and there are places where there is evidence if recent subsidence. Continue steadily upwards penetrating mountain scenery that is wild and uncompromising to reach a large stone cairn. This is where most walkers turn around.
However further progress into the rocky cirque can be accomplished following the path, which in places can be considered as rather fragile and liable to crumble at any minute. Eventually at just over 2500 metres further progress becomes unwise. There are few places in Europe where walkers can enjoy so wild a prospect. You should therefore allow time to absorb the rugged character of this location before returning to the start.
- 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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