East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.
East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.

General

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.

  • Donatsch Peter & Coulin David: Die schönsten Gipfelziele der Schweizer Alpen West - Zentralschweiz, Berner Oberland, Freiburg, Wallis, Waadt, 2. Auflage edition. Isbn: 978-3855028115. AT Verlag, 2004.

Areas

Bernese Alps

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, view from Männlichen. Source: . Credit: Cable1 Shot in Grindelwald, Switzerland. .
Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, view from Männlichen. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M%C3%A4nnlichen.jpg. Credit: Cable1 Shot in Grindelwald, Switzerland. .

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

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.

  • 3637 OT Mont VisoIGN

Dauphiné (Ecrins Massif)

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.

  • 3436 ET Meije-PelvouxIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3537 ET Guillestre, Vars, RisoulIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3437 ET Orcières-MerletteIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3336 ET Les Desux-Alpes Olon. MuzelleIGN. 1:25 000

Valleys

Bourg d'Oisans

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.

Alpe d'Huez
La Bérarde

La Grave

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.

Ailefroide

From Briançon drive up to Ailefroide, located to the East of the range. Access to Mont Pelvoux and Barre des Ecrins.

La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar

From Gap drive up to La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar, located to the south of the range.

Graian Alps

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.

  • 2003 Il Parco Nationale del Gran ParadisoIGC. 1:50 000
  • 101 Gran Paradiso, La Grivola, CogneIGC. 1:25 000
  • Kompass Karte: 86 Gran Paradiso

Valleys

valle d'Aosta

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

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.

  • 3741 OTIGN
  • TOP25: Saint-Martin-VésubieIGN
  • Les Spéciales: 5 Argentera MerceantourIGN
  • TOP25: 3541 OT Vallée de la VésubieIGN. 1:25 000
  • TOP25: 3741 OT Vallée de la CordolasqueIGN. 1:25 000

Mont Blanc Massif

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>>.

Pennine Alps (Valais Alps)

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>>.

Mountains

Cottian Alps

Monte Viso (Monviso)44.66757.0916673843
France, Cottian Alps, Queyras.
South face
South face. F/G2; II; 1130m.
Normal route. Rock and snow from Refuge Quintano Sella or Refuge-Bivouac Andreotti.
Aiguille de Chambeyron3412

Dauphiné (Ecrins Massif)

Barre des Écrins (Barre des Ecrins)4101
The highest mountain in the Écrins Massif. Somewhat paradoxically, one of the technically easier mountains of the area.
1864-07-25
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.
  • Whymper Edward: Scrambles Amongs the Alps. Isbn: .
North face
Couloir Barre Noire (North Couloir). Ice/snow, AD+/D-; Sco I/II/50°, avg. 47°; 2-3h. 1954-09-24First ascentF.Picard & G.Singer, 1954-09-24.
From Bréche des Ecrins, 0100m, 4h from Ecrins hut (3175). Often climbed from Ecrins hut in combination with NE Ridge. Wide open couloir, safe from objective dangers. Airy and less frequented than normal route.
North Face & West Ridge. Glacier, PD+/G4; 40°, II, mostly I; 1060m, 4h from Refuge des Écrins (3175m). 1864-07-25First ascentA.W. Moore, Edward Whymper, Michel Croz & Christian Almer in descent., 1864-07-25.
Normal route. Predominantly glacier climb up Glacier Blanc (40°, crevasses). Cross the bergschrund at Bréche Lory (3974m), bergschrund may be tricky). Summit ridge over foresummit Pic Lory, exposed on good rock (II, mostly I). Direct Finish possible at AD. Threatened by stone fall.
Northeast Ridge. Mixed, AD; III and II, 50°; 450m, 2h from Bréche des Écrins. 1881-06-18First ascentP.Güssfeldt & A.Burgener, 1881-06-18.
Often climbed in combination with Barre Noire Couloir. Mixed, may be corniced.
South face
Traverse South-North. AD; III-IV-, 45°; 1690m, 9-10h. 1881-07-11First ascentW.Coolidge & C.Almer sr & jr., 1881-07-11.
Ascent via South Face from Refuge du Temple Ecrins via Col des Avalanches (3479m), descent via normal route. Route finding possibly difficult.
South Face. Mixed, AD; III and II, 55°; 630m, 3-4h from Col des Avalanches, 1700m, 6-8h from Temple Hut. 1880-07-11First ascentH. Duhamel, Pierre Gaspard sr & jr., 1880-07-11.
Mixed climb with long rock passages of III and II, 55° on snow.
South Pillar. TD; V+ (one passage), V (several passages) and IV+ (sustained)/6a; 1100m, 6-9h on the face. 1944-08-15First ascentJean & Jeanne Franco, 1944-08-15.
Classic. Classic alpine route with IV+ (sustained) with V (several passages) and V+ (6a?, one passage). Serious because lack of retreat options and poor rock, otherwise objectively safe.
La Meije45.0047226.3086113983
France, Dauphiné.
North face
Couloir en Z. Ice/mixed, D/D+; IV/AI3+/70°; 900m, 6h from Refuge de l'Aigle, 9-11h from Promentoire hut. 1933-08-13First ascentM.Fourastier & C.Rodier, 1933-08-13.
Classic. Classic ice/mixed route on the North Face.
South face
Promontoire Arete (South Ridge). AD; 35°, IV-; 890m, 6h from Promontoire hut. 1891-07-03First ascentJ.Gibson, U.Almer & F.Boss, 1891-07-03.
Normal route. Popular and often frequented classic on good rock.
Traverse South-North. Mixed, D/D+; IV, 35°; 890m ascent, 530m descent. 10-12h from Promontoire hut (3092m) to Refuge de l'Aigle (3450m). 1891-07-03First ascentJ.Gibson, U.Almer & F.Boss, 1891-07-03.
Long mixed route, only little more difficult than the normal route. Ascent via Promontoire arete.
Ailefroide3954
Large and complex mountain with 2km ridge and several high high points. The main summit is Ailefroide Occidentale (weast summit).
1870-07-07
Ailefroide, ,
First ascent
W.Coolidge, C. & U. Almer & C.Gertsch
NW face
Northwest face via Glacier Long. Glacier, D; 1000m. 8h from bivouac under the face. 1982-01-01First ascentJ. de Lepiney & E.Stofer (to the bréche)., 1982.
Superb glacier climb, seldom frequented.
South side
SE Spur. PD; 5-6h from Sélé hut. 1870-07-07First ascentW.Coolidge, C. & U. Almer & C.Gertsch, 1870-07-07.
Normal route. Normal route on Ailefroide Occidentale, not very popular climb.
West side
West Face and South Flank. PD; 6h from Pilatte hut.
Normal route. Normal route from La Bárarde.
Devies-Gervasutti. TD+; IV/V; 1050m.
Mont Pelvoux3946
  • Pointe Puiseux (3946m)
  • Pointe Durand (3923m)
Bigger and even more complex than Ailefroide.
SW side
Couloir Coolidge & Traverse. IV PD+/G3; IV/PD/35°; 1250m.
From Ailefroide (1506m) via Couloir Coolidge on SW Flank to Point Durand.
Le Coup de Sabre3448
Central of the three cols on the north side between Mont Pelvoux and Ailefroide.
Couloir Nord de Coup de Sabre. II D; II/AI2/60°, avg. 54°; 450m, 2,5-4h from bivouac above glacier Noir, 6,5-8h from Cézanne. 1895-07-17First ascentA.Reynier, C.Verne, C. & M.Gaspard & J.Turc, 1895-07-17.
Central of the three cols on the north side between Mont Pelvoux and Ailefroide. Descent to south via easier couloir to Sélé hut, 1,5h.

Graian Alps

Gran Paradiso4061
Considered as an easy 400m peak. Very popular.
1860-01-01
Gran Paradiso, ,
First ascent
J.J. Cowell, W. Dundas, J. Payot & J. Tainaz
West face
West flank. PD-/G2-3; 35°, II; 1350m, 4-5h.
Normal route. Very popular. From the hut snow climb along wide path (35°). Final meters have some rock climbing (II and I).
East face
East Face. Mixed, AD; II, 50°; 900m, 4-5h from Pol Bivouac (3183m).
North side
NW face (North face). Ice/snow, IV D-; IV/D/50-55°; 600m (11 pitches).
Ice or snow climb.
North Ridge Integral. D; IV and III; 1700m, 15h from Leonessa Bivouac.
Grivola3969
Fragile and loose rock.
SE Face
SE Face. G3; II.
To summit via SE Face.
Via Normale. PD; 1380m, 5-6h.
Normal route. From Vittoria Sella hut (2588m) via glacier de la Rousse, Col de la Noire (3491m) and Colle de la Groivola (3738m).
Roche Melon (Rocciamelone)3538
Roche Melon was the first high Alpine peak to be either attempted or successfully climbed.
1358-01-01
Roche Melon, ,
First ascent
Bonifacius Rotarius of Asti. He later built a small chapel on the summit, which still stands today.
Punta dell'Argentera44.1777787.3055563297
Italy, Maritime Alps.
North side
Couloir de Lourousa. AD; 45-50°; 900m.
SE face
SE face. Rock, II PD-; 1532m.
West face
Éperon du Promontoire. Rock, AD; 800m. 1994-01-01First ascentJean-Pierre Canceill, 1994.
Rock route on excellent granite.
Cime du Gélas3143
East side
Arete du St.Robert. Rock, PD; II; 1250m (difficulties 300m) from La Madone de Fenestre hut (1902m).
East Couloir. Rock, F; 1250m, 4h (7h rountrip) from La Madone de Fenestre hut (1902m).
South side
South Face. Rock, D+; V+ (one passage), V (2 passages ), otherwise IV+; 300m (10 pitches), 4h.
rock (granit/gneiss).
West side
West Couloir. Mixed, AD; 50°; 1650m (difficulties 250m).
Cima di Nasta3108
Alte Matto3088
Cima della Maledie3061
SE Arete
Traverse of SE-NW arete. Rock,
Mount Clapier3045
SW Arete
Arete E (SW Arete). Mixed, III AD; III/M2/50°, II; 200m.
Mount Ténibre3031