Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins
Walk 6015

Country - France

Region - Haute Alpes (05) - Vallee de la Vallouise - Ecrins NP

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 14.0 km / 8.8 miles

Ascent - 1000 metres / 3300 feet

Descent - 1000 metres / 3300 feet

Time - 6.00 hours

Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins Photo from the walk - Ailefroide - Refuge du Sélé, Ecrins 
Click thumbnails for larger images.

This walk contains some sections where a head for heights and some scrambling skills are essential. However the majority of the walk can be enjoyed without the need for serious scrambling although this will mean stopping short of the Refuge. Therefore it is important to take all your food and drinks with you.

For the purposes of this description the walks starts from the small chapel on the main street of the village. From here walk north along the road to a junction. Turn left. This will lead you past the edge of the large camping area on your left to reach a car park (an alternative start if you have transport). Go through the car park and follow the clear path signed to the "Refuge du Sele, Refuge du Pelvoux and Claphouse".

The going is fairly level with the path following the river upstream to reach a path junction in just over 15 minutes. Ignore the path going left across the bridge and continue upstream. The path is within sight or sound of the river for virtually the whole route. The path climbs steadily using ziz-zags and loops where necessary to reach another junction where the path to Refuge du Pelvoux goes right.

Continue straight ahead. You will have probably spotted the Refuge du Sélé by now perched atop a crag on the right hand side of the valley. The path reaches a fairly level section with a step in the valley ahead. The river cascades over this step with a rock wall to its right. This is where the path suddenly becomes interesting and rather more challenging.

Just before reaching the step in the valley floor, the path negotaites a boulder field. Exiting this you reach the first of a number of sections with cables to assist your ascent and subsequent descent. The path goes left for a short distance before turning and heading left up and across the rock wall. In a few places there is a degree of exposure with a a couple of short sections that are awkward rather than intimidating. Eventually the problems are overcome and the path delivers you to the Refuge where food and drinks can be obtained.

The return to Ailefroide follows the same route as used for the outward walk.

Suggested Maps

- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Meije Pelvoux - Parc National des Ecrins - 1:25000 Sheet 3436ET

Digital Mapping

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.

Recommended Reading

The GR20 Corsica

The GR20 CorsicaGuidebook to walking the GR20 through Corsica's high mountains. A challenging trail between Calenzana and Conca that includes hands-on scrambling, the 190km trek can be completed by fit walkers in about two weeks. The guidebook includes high and low-level alternatives, plus extra mountain climbs, and all you need to know for this tough route.
More information

Walking in the Dordogne

Walking in the DordogneThis guidebook describes 30 walking routes in France's beautiful Dordogne region, based around Sarlat and Souillac regions (Perigord Noir) and Bergerac (Perigord Poupre). The walks range from short walks to more lengthy mountain circuits, and explore the spectacular gorges, chateaux and medieval villages of the region.
More information