August 17th, 2017 by Puma


In case you missed it YAC lived up to its name this year with a trip to the Alps. Big mountains, long days, the lot. For just over a week 9 of us based ourselves in La Berarde, recommended by Dave W (1st out of the 9) as a quiet(ish) location in the Ecrins Massif. La Berarde is a small village at the head of the Venon Valley, as far as you can go on the road basically. It’s roughly 2 hours from Grenoble and sits next to a lovely glacial run off river. There is easy (ish) access to a number of huts with more mountain routes than you can shake a stick at, for the rest days the valley has a number of sports routes from single pitch within spitting distance of the campsite to all day 15 pitch beasts.


The first day got off to an exciting start, Mike and Russ had a pop at Pain Grillé (V+) on Tete de la Maye, but finished the day coming to the aid of two climbers who’d been involved in an accident. The injured climbers were safely delivered to the ground thanks to the help of Mike and Russ, not daunted by this turn of events they returned later in the week to complete the climb. Rob and I also did this climb later in the week and I can say it is an excellent 15 pitch route, the grading is quite homogenous, the bolts good and the start within a short walk from the campsite. Tete de la Maye has may multi pitch routes and is within walking distance of the village which makes is a great option for a late stare


After a couple of days acclimatising the whole team set off for an assent of Pic Geny arete est. Perhaps this is considered a minor peak in Alpine settings but it provides an excellent 1000+m of climbing (PD+, according to camptocamp, in UK money I say most was close to a grade III scramble with a couple of slightly harder climbing pitches (Diff/VDiff), culminating with a superb pointy summit. The decent, by a number of crumbling gullies and abseils, takes you back to the Venon valley by way of the Sellier hut. Our route description was in french which made this quite exciting — certainly motivation to recall to distant high school classes. The whole route took around 15 hours door to door but could include a bivy close to the start of the route if you didn’t fancy such an early start. I’ll leave the final word to DW who said this was a contender for his finest mountain day.


The following day saw us retreating to our tents as a monster storm dropped so much rain on us Rob had to dig storm drains around his tent with an ice axe. I the meantime Carmen and Karl had retired to the local climbing shop/ cafe/ bar for a session on the aperitifs. We joined them later for a meal in one of the local restaurants, when you’re sick of cooking on the camp stove there are a few places to eat in La Berarde, not overly expensive either. The next morning we found a landslide had covered the read and a walk up the valley showed quite a lot of the paths had been washed away, along with bridges.

The other big tick for the week was the magnificent pinnacle of La Dibona that soars above the Sellier hut. Despite the freezing start there were reportedly crowds on the popular lines. Three three teams did different routes including the Madier Route (TD).

Teams also visited l’Encoula Barfly are, where the route that follows the right side of the waterfall provides a very nice day out.

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