Mountain Adventures in the Maurienne: The Vanoise and Dauphiné..

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Mountain Adventures in the Maurienne: The Vanoise and Dauphiné Alps.

Idioma: INGLÉS.
Autor: Andy Hodges.
Publicado el 10 de Junio de 2011.
1ª edición.
ISBN 9781852846213.

This guide offers readers all the inspiration they need for a multi-activity holiday in the Haute Maurienne, in the French Alps. With many suggestions for day walks, mountaineering routes, via ferratas, rock climbs, mountain biking, road cycling and long-distance treks, there's something here for everyone in your party.

day walks, scrambles, treks, rock climbs, via ferratas, mountain biking and road cycle routes.
passes open in late May with the season lasting through to early October.
Termignon and Val Cenis.
Routes range from short walks and cycle rides for the whole family to sustained or challenging mountain routes up to PD to reach the highest summits.
Must See.
rocky summits towering over small Alpine villages and the highest cols guarding the valley's approaches; follow in the (possible) footsteps of Hannibal; reach the summit of Dent Parrachée; two-wheeled and roped adventures add adrenalin sport opportunities for a ‘mix and match’ visit!

The Haute Maurienne valley is perfect for a whole range of alpine adventures and activities. The routes in this guide range from short walks and cycle rides for the whole family to long mountaineering routes to the highest summits. Whether you and your holiday companions are adrenalin junkies or Alpine ramblers, or a mixture of both, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy, day after day. Routes are clearly described and illustrated with maps, topos and profiles, as well as inspiring photos of mountain-lovers in action among the Alpine scenery. Activities included are:

day walks
rock climbing
via ferratas
mountain biking
road cycling.


The Vanoise National Park
Plants and flowers
Art and culture
When to go
Mountain refuges
Insurance and rescue
Maps and navigation
Wet weather alternatives
Using this guide

1 Day Walks
Route 1 Lac de l’Arcelle
Route 2 La Pierre aux Pieds
Route 3 Lac Blanc and Plan des Eaux
Route 4 Vallon de la Rocheure
Route 5 Pointe de Lanserlia
Route 6 Hannibal’s Crossing (Col Clapier)
Route 7 Mont Froid
Route 8 Pointe de Bellecombe
Route 9 High Valley Walk
Route 10 Pointe de l’Observatoire

2 Mountaineering Routes
Route 11 Pointe Droset
Route 12 Crête de la Turra and Pointe du Grand Vallon
Route 13 Pointe des Fours
Route 14 3000ers Circuit
Route 15 Lessières Traverse
Route 16 Le Petit Vallon
Route 17 Roche d’Etache
Route 18 Traverse of Pointe de Cugne
Route 19 North Ridge of Cime du Laro
Route 20 Signal du Petit Mont Cenis
Route 21 Arête de Léché
Route 22 La Dent Parrachée

3 Via Ferratas
Route 23 Le Pichet, Lanslevillard
Route 24 The Pinnacles, Aussois
Route 25 Guy Favre, Balme Noir

The Victor Emmanuel Fort Complex

Route 26 Traversée des Anges
Route 27 Montée au Ciel
Route 28 Les Rois Mages
Route 29 Descente aux Enfers
Route 30 Remontée du Purgatoire

Via Ferrata/Rock Climbing

Route 31 Via Cordatta, Col de la Madeleine

4 Rock Climbing
Route 32 Rocher des Amoureux
Route 33 Sollières
Route 34 Rocher de Termignon
Route 35 Blocs de la Madeleine
Route 36 Dalles du Mollard
Route 37 Drailles Blanches

5 Mountain Biking
Bike hire and bike shops
The routes

Route 38 Termignon and Sollières Circuit
Route 39 La Girarde
Route 40 Champions’ Loop
Route 41 Chemin du Petit Bonheur
Route 42 The Sardières Monolith
Route 43 Mont Cenis Circuit

6 Road Rides
Route 44 Col du Mont Cenis
Route 45 Aussois Loop
Route 46 Col de l’Iseran
Route 47 Col du Galibier

7 Walking Tours
Route 48 Tour of the Vanoise Glaciers
Route 49 Tour of Méan Martin
Route 50 Tour of Pointe de l’Echelle

Appendix A Route summary tables
Appendix B Useful contacts
Appendix C Useful phrases

Maps and navigation

The French IGN ‘Top 25’ 1:25,000 maps are excellent. They identify the main paths in easy-to-see red, and more difficult sections are marked as red dots. They are sold at supermarkets and many other shops and cost around €9 each. Alternatively, they can be purchased online before you visit and there is now the option of a laminated version. (This isn’t available in France, just in the Aqua3 online map shop.) Termignon is one of those places that is on the join of three maps, so three maps are needed to cover the whole area. An alternative is the 1:50,000 map (the Carte de Randonnées A3: Alps Vanoise) which clearly identifies waymarked walking routes, climbing sites, via ferrata venues and mountain bike areas.

1:25,000 maps
3534OT Les Trois Vallées Modane
3633ET Tignes, Val d’Isère, Haute Maurienne
3634OT Val Cenis Charbonnel

The most recent editions of these maps show the extent of glacial retreat in a different colour.

If you are bringing a GPS, ensure it is programmed to datum WGS 84 and the grid system to UTM/UPS otherwise all grid references will be inaccurate. Don’t forget to reprogramme it to UK settings on your return or the same problems will occur back in the UK.

Unlike the UK, paths are waymarked and signed to a high degree. The signage usually gives information in times rather than distance, and these seem to be calculated with a similar formula to Naismith’s Rule of 5km per hour. The red-and-white flashes on rocks, walls and buildings will become familiar friends, and the small cycling symbols will also be a welcome aid to route finding.

Roman remains in Susa

Looking down the Maurienne valley towards Bramans from the Lac Blanc path

The shark’s fin ridge of the Pointe de Leche route is a thrilling midpoint

The traverse of the cables with one of the tree sections in the background

Singletrack leading into the descent to le Coin

Rabobank chase down a local club rider on the road into Termignon

Where do French mountain guides go for their holidays? I once asked a guide this question, while standing on the summits of the Domes du Miage in the Mont Blanc range, and he pointed to some rose-pink-tipped summits in the far distance. ‘La Vanoise,’ was the reply. And so began an adventure to discover a range of mountains steeped in history, modest in altitude and of breathtaking beauty. The Vanoise massif is a beautiful range of mountains bounded by the valleys of the Maurienne and the Tarentaise. The Maurienne valley is over 60km long, towered over by peaks of staggering symmetry straight from a child’s drawing of mountains. Many figures from history and mountaineering legend have trod through its forests and along its ancient tracks; yet the valley is somehow forgotten by the British mountaineering fraternity, despite having been at the heart of the early days of Alpine exploration. Now is the time to rediscover the Maurienne.

The Maurienne valley in the Savoy region was well known to European travellers; for millennia it was the main route from north-western Europe to the cultural centres of Italy. The English Romantic landscape artist JMW Turner was sufficiently inspired by his crossing of the Col du Mont Cenis to record the experience in a masterpiece, ‘The Passage of Mont Cenis’ (1820). The valley is also one of those believed to be central to the most famous of Alpine journeys, Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps. His supposed route into Italy is now a pleasant half-day’s walk to a far-reaching viewpoint. The valley also once formed the main route from Lyon to Milan and was part of the Spice Road between these two important cities – the village of Termignon had a chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de Poivre (Our Lady of the Pepper).

The French–Italian border in this area has shifted many times and there are nearly 30 fortresses in the valley, evidence of the many border conflicts. (Today, the Victor Emmanuel Fort Complex forms the focus of a series of breathtaking via ferratas described in this book.) In 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction of a road from the valley to aid his invasion of Italy. Throughout the mid-1800s the Dukes of Savoy fought long and hard here to maintain their sovereignty, as Savoy was a contested region between France and the Kingdom of Italy, under Victor Emmanuel.

The explorer Edward Whymper devoted a chapter of Scrambles Amongst the Alps to the ingenuity of the Fell railway and Frejus tunnel, both engineered to cross the Alps from here and in World War II fierce battles were fought to gain control of the road. The famous Maginot (or Alpine) Line, built to defend the French border, ran through the valley and on many of the routes in this guidebook you will see the remains of fortifications and evidence of the front line.

So why have so few British mountaineers heard of this once well-known area? Perhaps it is because it lacks the highest peaks – nowhere is the 4000m contour reached – and has fewer glaciated summits than the higher and more famous Alpine regions. But this only makes it perfect for the connoisseurs of mid-grade mountain adventures, those wanting challenging routes and those wanting to mix and match their mountain activities.

The valley offers some of the finest modern via ferratas in France, routes specifically designed for sport, with reliable and well-maintained equipment taking direct lines up soaring cliffs and into the deepest of gorges. Walks and scrambles allow real summits to be reached from the valley in a day, with views reaching to the highest mountain giants in the distance, and mountaineering journeys allow the high summits to be reached without tackling glaciers. Cyclists will find themselves surrounded by Alpine giants familiar to any Tour de France follower, Col de l’Iseran, Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer amongst them. Nor will mountain bikers be disappointed, with waymarked trails threading through the forests and ski lifts to take the sting out of long climbs. Plenty of rock climbing venues cater for everyone climbing from V Diff through to the higher E grades.

This guidebook is broken into sections according to interest and is written for someone visiting the region for a couple of weeks to explore and enjoy a number of mountain activities, maybe with different companions. The aim is also to ignite an interest in this beautiful region and encourage you to return for more mountain adventures in the future.