Cicerone Guide Book: Via Ferratas of the French Alps, by Richard Miller
This guidebook covers 66 varied via ferratas in the French Alps.
The routes are spread over six areas: Geneva and the Northern Alps, Chambéry, Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys, Grenoble and Briançon, amid the Mont Blanc, Vanoise and Queyras ranges.
Difficulty ranges from easy, protected routes through to exposed, technical challenges.
With some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, the French Alps have long been a popular destination for a wide range of outdoor activities. In recent years, the region has seen the arrival of a growing number of via ferrata routes.
Via ferrata climbing using fixed cables, bridges and ladders to explore terrain that is normally only accessible to experienced rock climbers combines elements of scrambling, mountaineering and rock climbing, yet is a very distinct pursuit. Increasingly popular, recent years have seen a surge in the number of routes being established in these iconic mountains.
The routes in this guidebook range from straightforward, protected walks suitable for beginners and children, through to highly strenuous and massively exposed challenges suitable only for those with experience. The guide gives full explanations of all the techniques and equipment required and all routes are graded for difficulty, exposure and seriousness.
Geneva and the Northern Alps - the area covered in this chapter encompasses the Chablais, Haute Giffre, Borne, Avrias and Beaufortain ranges within the Alps as well as the southern end of the Jura Massif. The 12 via ferrata routes described are spread out over a fairly wide area, and are fairly representative of French via ferratas, being quite varied in both style and difficulty.
Chambery - the small city of Chambery, scenically located in a wide valley between two mountain ranges, is the capital of the Savoie department. Most of the routes in this chapter are located in the Chartreuse and Bauges massifs. They are mostly sports routes, which involve little rock contact, and several of them are suitable for novices.
Tarentaise - the Tarentaise Valley encompasses the upper reaches of the River Isere, from Moutiers in the west to Val-d'Isere at its eastern extremity. All the routes in this chapter are situated just to the south of the valley, within in the northern half of the Vanoise Massif.
Maurienne - the majority of routes in this chapter are located along the course of the valley of the River Arc. All of the routes in this chapter are sports routes that do not involve large amounts of rock contact. Most of them are fairly easy with only a handful of more difficult routes. Several of the easier routes would serve as ideal introductions to the activity.
Grenoble - the nine via ferratas in this chapter include an even mixture of sports routes and mountain routes. They are mostly mid-grade option and are not suitable for absolute beginners.
Briancon - of the via farratas covered in this chapter, two are in Briancon itself, three are to the north of the city along the Guisane Valley and 11 are located to the south. The routes are representative of a good range of difficulties, and quite a few of them involve more rock contact than is typical of French via ferratas. A number are suitable for novices.
66 varied routes across six areas: Geneva and the Northern Alps, Chambéry, the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys, Grenoble and Briançon
routes illustrated by sketch maps and topo diagrams
glossary of via ferrata terminology and a list of useful French words and phrases
the bulk of the routes are open from early summer to mid-autumn, with a fair number being open from early spring to early winter depending on local weather conditions
Geneva, Chambéry, St Jean de Maurienne, Grenoble, Briançon as well as numerous mountain resorts
a wide range of routes from straightforward protected walks ideal for beginners to highly strenuous, massively exposed endeavours suitable only for the most daring. All routes graded for difficulty, exposure and the seriousness of the environment. A full explanation of the techniques and equipment required is given
Routes on or near the Mont Blanc Massif, Lac Bourget, the Beaufortain Massif, the Vanoise Massif, the Chartreuse Massif, the Écrins Massif, the Queyras Massif and many other scenic highlights of the French Alps
Updates and errata:
Route 40 - Via Ferrata de la Cascade de L'Oule
This via ferrata has closed due to rock fall. It is not likely to reopen this year but should be usable again from spring 2015.
New Via Ferrata Rocher de l'envers
A new via ferrata has opened close to the village of Saint-Vincent-de-Mercuze, which is located 10km to the north of Route 40 (page 224). The route is reportedly fairly easy and takes 2-3 hours to complete. It should be avoided in wet weather."
New Via Ferrata Bellevaux
A new via ferrata has opened near the village of Bellevaux. This is located 10km south of Thonon-les-Bains, near Routes 3 and 4. It is reportedly free to use with your own equipment, quite large and incorporates a number of bridges and other elements, covering a range of difficulties. The local tourist office contact details can be found at http://ete.bellevaux.com/office-du-tourisme-bellevaux-val-d-hermone.html
p204; Route 36 Via Ferrata du Rocher Saint Pierre Stage A: 1ère Partie
An additional section of via ferrata has been added, which provides an easier alternative to the Échelle de Tichodrome.
p219; Route 39 Via Ferrata de l'Adret Stage B: Le Bastion
This is reportedly closed for the whole of the 2014 season. Stage A is still open.
p300; Route 58 Via Ferrata des Gorges de la Durance
A new section of via ferrata has been added, which is designed specifically for small children (ages four and up).
p327; Route 64 Via Ferrata de Fort Queyras
As of mid-July 2014 this route has been temporarily closed due to an access dispute. Hopefully the dispute will be resolved quickly, but make sure to check with the local tourist office before visiting. Their contact details can be found at www.chateauvillevieille.com/office-tourisme-ete.html
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