French Alps climbing holiday, short break

“Climb either Dome des Ecrins or Barre des Ecrins over 3 days as part of a small group with UIAGM high mountain guides. High level of fitness required.”


Choice of summits | Dome des Ecrins (4015m) | Barre des Ecrins (4012m) | experienced or novice route | Refuge du Glacier Blanc (2542m) | Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (3364m) | UIAGM high mountain guides |

Description of French Alps climbing holiday, short break

French Alps climbing holidays over three days enable mountaineers to have their cake and eat it as they have a choice of climbing France heavyweights the Dome des Ecrins or the Barre des Ecrins after a day spent acclimatising and improving techniques on a glacial climb.

Both summits will take French Alps climbing enthusiasts to over 13,000ft with the chance to create a unique tailor made climbing holiday for groups of two or more during the summer months of June through to September.

As the largest national park in France, climbing in Ecrins opens up an area that holds more than 100 peaks at above 9,000ft with an array of glaciers adding to the attraction for French Alps climbing adventurers.

Previous climbing experience and technical crampon knowledge is essential for climbing the Barre des Ecrins as it's graded PD with an exposed narrow ridge needing to be negotiated before attempting to reach the summit. However, don't despair if you don't have mountain climbing or crampon experience. The Dome des Ecrins is graded F and is therefore fine for beginners with no experience of climbing in France or anywhere else, for that matter.

Of course, no matter what your level of climbing experience this sort of adventure holiday is not something to be taken lightly and a high level of health and fitness is needed in order to ascend either peak in Ecrins National Park.

Both of our climbing itineraries have been created with a short break in mind which allows climbers to meet the challenge over the course of a long weekend.

Honing skills on Glacier Blanc on Day One is an essential part of acclimatising to the rigours of high altitude climbing in the French Alps with new skills and the development of existing skills both beneficial for beginners and experienced climbers.

Our first night will be spent in the refuge on Glacier Blanc after those heading to Dome des Ecrins will have acclimatised on the mixed snow and scramble route up Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (graded: 3a) and those intending to ascend Barre des Ecrins will have acclimatised on the five peaked ridge of Le Pointe des Cineastres (graded 3c).

An early start from Refuge des Ecrins allows both sets of climbers to focus on their objectives as both Barre des Ecrins and Dome des Ecrins can be seen from the refuge.

Both sets of climbers will negotiate the glaciers and crevasses en-route to the summit of the Dome des Ecrins before the climbing party heading to the summit of Barre des Ecrins continue their journey along the exposed ridge over a rock climb graded as 4a.

Views over the French Alps from both peaks are absolutely stunning and the feeling of elation at having achieved something remarkable is quite rightly worth soaking it all in.

Our French Alps climbing guides are certified UIAGM expert mountaineers and place safety as their number one priority with a ratio of one guide for every four climbers ascending Dome des Ecrins and one guide to two climbers heading to the top of Barre des Ecrins.

This French Alps climbing trip is perfect for those who don't have much time to take a holiday or who are part of a couple or friendship group who are at different abilities as the same overnight refuge accommodation is shared no matter which itinerary you're undertaking.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Check dates

2021: 25 Jun, 2 Jul

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We respect and support local conservation / erosion projects by following guidelines issued by the Ecrins National Park and ensuring our clients are made aware of any specific guidelines that may affect them. E.g. carrying rubbish down from refuges / high mountain walks.

All our guides are fully trained in environmental sustainability as a part of their diplomas and they educate our clients about the mountain habitat during the activities.

Examples include educating clients as to the sensitivity of certain high mountain birds such as the Black Grouse and Ptarmigan to human disturbance. We are also actively involved in monitoring the re-colonisation of wolves in the area.

We don’t print brochures and keep paper use to a minimum in the office preferring electronic distribution as our main means of communication with clients. We provide detailed information on how to behave within the park such as carrying out all litter, no free camping and adhering to the rules of the park.

The Impacts of this Trip

The mountain refuges on this trip are all club alpine francais (CAF) refuges so they maintain the buildings but it is the guardians that will make your trip!

They live in the refuges for the summer and make their living out of the food and drinks they sell to tourists. It is a hard life and is done out of a passion for the mountains rather than a desire to make any money. It is getting harder and harder for the guardians to make ends meet and to justify their summers in the mountains, especially in the refuges a little off the beaten track.

This trip visits two high mountain refuges and as such contributes to the support of the guardians who make their living there.

We also use local guides and pay them the proper rate rather than importing ‘part time guides’ from abroad who have alternative means of income and do guiding for fun and not much money. These types of guides are able to reduce their rates significantly making it difficult for full time guides who have dedicated their lives to the mountains to be competitive.


1 Reviews of French Alps climbing holiday, short break

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 11 Aug 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Reaching the Summit of Dome Des Ecrins at 08:40 on the Sunday morning after leaving the refuge at 04:00am!
Overall the experience was great, certainly recommend Bernard's excellent skills at both guiding and pushing you to reach above your goals

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Good boots that you know are essential, you'll be working them hard over different terrain, with and without crampons.
Stuff to eat while you're on the move or balanced on a snow-field - ideally softer the better - makes for less chewing time.
I would recommend a water bladder for your rucksack - makes for easier drinking for sure, using a water bottle is okay, but if I went again I would take a

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

For sure, the company I used was local - with local knowledge and family. I also utilised local hotels, restaurants and businesses whilst there.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic, would return (and plan to) in a flash! Go on this adventure

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