Pré de Madame Carle - Refuge du Glacier Blanc, Ecrins
Country - France
Region - Haute Alpes (05) - Vallee de la Vallouise - Ecrins NP
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.0 km / 5 miles
Ascent - 675 metres / 2228 feet
Descent - 675 metres / 2228 feet
Time - 4.50 hours
The walk to the Refuge du Glacier Blanc involves a climb out of the valley in a series of well-graded zigzags to reach a hidden valley into which Glacier Blanc drains. The path is clear and well signed apart from a short but confusing section identified in the text.
From the large carpark at Pré de Madame Carle take the wide path that goes to the right of the restaurant/refuge Cezanne. This leads across the valley floor to cross a fast moving stream by a substantial bridge. If there are other walkers on the path you can see the route ahead climbing the valley side. Reaching a path junction go right and begin the first of many zigzags cleverly designed to keep the grade walkable.
There are a few Marmotte burrows near the path and some are very friendly and will beg for food. However there are signs advising you not to feed them as it disturbs their diet. Continuing the climb, you lose count of the zigzags. Generally speaking the path is easy with just occasional scetions requiring the use of hands.
Eventually the path reaches a small crest before descending into an glacial amphitheatre that contains many discarded boulders. The path crosses the glacial stream by means of a bridge before climbing the rocks ahead. To your left is the Glacier Blanc.
After crossing the bridge there are a couple of routes that lead nowhere and you need to retreat. The red markers are a help and if there are other walkers about watch them and follow those who seem to have chosen the best route. The problems are short-lived and soon you are on a well mraked path that requires a little more hard work than before as you gain height more rapidly.
Reaching a flatter area with some small tarns you get a good view of the glacier with the Refuge du Glacier Blanc high on a rocky bluff to the right of the glacier. The final climb is reached with some cables on the tricky bits to bring you to the Refuge. A good variety of food and drink is available with a superb view to enjoy. To return just follow the outward route taking care on the descent to the bridge over the glacier outflow.
- 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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