Groups located to the east of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
The Bernese Oberland is located in the north-western part of the Swiss Alps. Apart from a eight 4000m peaks it has many challenging summits above the 3000m mark. Although Finsteraarhorn is the highest peak in the area (4274m), the Bernese Alps are dominated by the famous trilogy of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. The area is highly heavily glaciated, in fact, around 25 km long Aletschgletscher, the longest glacier in the Alps, is found in the Bernese Alps. The center of Bernese Alps is Grindelwald (1034m). Jungfraubahn from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch (3454), the highest railway in the Europe, makes approaches to several climbs much shorter. <<more>>.
Cottian Alps are located between Maritime Alps in the south, Dauphiné in the east and Graian Alps in the north. The most important mountain of the area is pyramide-shaped Monte Viso (also known as Monviso, 3843m), located in Italy and part of the Queyras Mountains SE from the city of Briancon. South of Queyras lies Ubaye valley close to city of Barcelonnette. The highest mountains of this area is Aiguille de Chambeyron. South of Ubaye lies famous canyon Gorges de Verdon, a mecca for (sport) rock climbers.
Dauphiné is a compact region of large peaks with long summit ridges, rising above long stony valleys. It is also known as Ecrins Massif. The area offers a wide selection of climbs of all grades from easy to long and serious. The crown of the area is Barre des Écrins, the only summit reaching magical 4000 meter mark (4101m). Other popular mountains are La Meije (3983m), Ailefroide (3954m) and Mont Pelvoux (3946m).
Convenient centres are are La Bárarde and Ailefroide. Nearest bigger city is Bourg d'Oisans. With the exception of ski lifts of La Grave, there are no telepheriques, thus walk-ins are often long. Season lasts from early July to early September. As elsewhere, first 2 weeks of August are very crowded, although not nearly as crowded as Chamonix. The range is far enough south that the Mediterranean has considerable climatic influence, and the weather is generally gentler than elsewhere in the high Alps. Forecasts can be gotten from Rescue Post near CAF Centre.
There are excellent middle grade mixed climbs, pure rock routes and some really serious difficult climbs, but it is also very suitable for a first season in the Alps. The gneiss of the Ecrins is not considered to be of best quality, but all the recommended rock-climbs are as solid as Chamonix. However, there are some big routes that are serious because of poor rock.
During the winter the Oisans region becomes one of the ice climbing meccas of the Europe. Most famous destinations for climbers in search of quality ice are L'Alpe d'Huez and especially La Grave.
Access to NW side of the range is from Grenoble to Bourg d'Oisans. The main resorts there are l'Alp d'Huez and La Bérarde in the heart of Les Ecrins.
Ski resort la Grave is the main center in the northern part of the area. The access is either from Grenoble or Briançon. Main peaks accessible from La Grave are La Meije and le Râteau. During the winter the valley is one of the premiere ice climbing spots in the Alps with great number of classic routes.
From Briançon drive up to Ailefroide, located to the East of the range. Access to Mont Pelvoux and Barre des Ecrins.
From Gap drive up to La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar, located to the south of the range.
Graian Alps are located along the Italian and French border between La Grave at the southwest and Aoeste at the northeast. They are due north of the Cottian Alps, northeast of the Dauphiné and southeast of Mont Blanc. The range includes two separate massifs, Vanoise in western part and eastern Graias, sometimes referred to as Gran Paradiso Group. The approach to the range is easiest from Val d'Aosta. Turin, Italy is a nearby major center.
Vanoise area has a lot to offer, particularly for those seeking to gain Alpine experience, or those looking for something a little less demanding than the Chamonix summits. A collection of peaks which includes a dozen summits above the 3550m mark and attains a maximum altitude of 3852m (Grande Casse), provides a good and varied selection of snow and mixed routes, with something for the novice and experienced alpinist alike. The whole area is criss-crossed by a network of excellent paths, making access to the mountains a simple matter and providing a number of attractive routes for the mountain walker. Pralognan and Val d'Isere are the two best bases of the area. Both have campsites, tourist offices, hotels, shops and banks. It is possible to transfer between the two by bus, as there are regular daily services.
Eastern Graian Alps are home to two important peaks, Gran Paradiso (4061m) and Grivola (3969m). In addition, there are over 20 rock fins and towers reaching the 3500 meter mark. Eastern area has plenty of alpine snow and ice routes. Normal route of Gran Paradiso is a popular destination among those willing to climb their first 4000m peak. NW face on the other hand is a classic ice face.
The best known ice climbing center of the area is, Cogne in the Aosta Valley at the base of the Grand Paradiso. Access is through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Courmayeur then down the Aosta valley to Sarre then a twisting road leads up into the mountains. Cogne is higher and further north than other ice climbing centres of Graian Alps, thus it has a longer and more reliable season.
Large valley located to the north of Grain Alps. Main city of the valley is Aosta. Cogne, located in Aosta valley is a mecca for waterfall climbing during the winter.
Maritime Alps on the southern border between France and Italy (north of the city of Nice and southwest from Turin) are the southernmost mountain range of the Alps. Although the mountains are significantly lower than many in the north and east, the rock is generally of good quality gneiss and routes of up to 600 meters are not uncommon. Climbers will be most interested in the peaks around the village of St.Martin de Vésubie. Here locates the region's highest peak, Punta del'Argentera (3297m). The mountain locates less than 50 km from the Mediterranean and stable climate reflects this proximity. Except in the highest and most sheltered areas, most snow has melted by summer.
During the winter Maritime Alps have high quality ice fall climbing. Center is Argentera valley in which the season runs from mid-december to March. Because of approximity to Mediterranean, the season shorter than in the areas further north.
Home of alpinism, Mont Blanc Massif offers the alpinist a superb choice of top quality routes on rock, snow and ice and of all grades of difficulty. Several of the classic routes have their firm place in the history of mountaineering. Besides Mont Blanc at 4807m there are thirteen other mountains and many more tops which reach the magic 4000m. There are several trains and telepheriques that make approaches to many mountains short and effortless. Considering this, the quality and diversity of routes, and the fact that the range is compact, it is no wonder, that overcrowding can be a problem in some areas. However, it is also possible to climb routes in relative solitude, if climbers are prepared to climb in less popular (and often also less accessible) areas. <<more>>.
The Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy are perhaps the most spectacular mountain chain in Europe. The range borders on the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Mont Blanc group in southwest, on the Upper Rhône Valley in the north, on the Simplon Pass and the Lepontine Alps in northeast and by the Dora Baltea River valley in south. The compact area boasts ten of the twelve highest summits in the Alps (the other two are part of the Mont Blanc Massif), most of them located in the frontier crest. The high mountains are separated by long narrow valleys. <<more>>.
Barre des Écrins, ,First ascent
|A.W. Moore, Edward Whymper, Michel Croz & Christian Almer via North Face and upper East Ridge Whymper's Books "Scrambles Amongs the Alps" tells the story of the ascent.|
Ailefroide, ,First ascent
|W.Coolidge, C. & U. Almer & C.Gertsch|
Gran Paradiso, ,First ascent
|J.J. Cowell, W. Dundas, J. Payot & J. Tainaz|
Roche Melon, ,First ascent
|Bonifacius Rotarius of Asti. He later built a small chapel on the summit, which still stands today.|