French Alps 2000

Here's some pictures Sam and I took during the short time we spent in the French Alps. Using information from the web we decided to try the French 'Via Ferrata' below 'Les Deux Alpes' ski resort. Both Via Ferrata are quite different to the Italian ones  in the Dolomites.  The Dolomiti Ferrate are more akin to mountain walking, whereas the French Via are more like rock climbs.  A Petzl 'Zyper' or similar is essential as there are some long overhanging sections which require a good level of fitness and arm strength, although the French Via are less committing due to the shorter length and more sheltered valley aspect.

The Via Ferrata 'Des Perrons' starts in the trees by the path above the craftsman village of Venosc (about 15 minutes from the Venosc cable-car station which is the closest you can park a car).  It's almost totally cabled with plastic coated cable secured by Petzl resin bolts so you can't lose your way like on Italian Vias.  Steel re-bar staples are plentiful, although there is a section up a dirty, chossy slope with long 'runouts' between bolts. Views of the river Veneon and Venosc are spectacular as the valley really opens up once you get to the top.  A gentle twenty minute walk leads to the eastern end of Les Deux Alpes which is pretty deserted in summer.  There's a long steep walk back down the path by the cable car station unless the cable cars are running (about the 24th June until 1st September I think).

The Via Ferrata de Ste. Christophe is situated further up the valley towards La Berade.  It starts by the river Veneon next to a white-water rafting school just before the road climbs the western side of the valley in a series of switchbacks.  It traverses above the river in gravity defying situations with a rope bridge thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately the road splits the Via into two sections although it allows you to catch your breath.  The first section is the longest, most strenuous and most spectacular although the second shouldn't be missed.

Both Via take 2 or three hours in total, so it's easy to do both in a day, although we did them on separate days.  Other things worth doing in the area are:- shopping in Bourg d'Oisans, rock climbing on an outcrop next to the road to Venosc, a drive up the mad road to La Berade (which may or may not have fallen into the river!), a ride in the cablecar to Les Deux Alpes, and Glacier skiing at Les deux Alpes.

Click on the links for a full size image.

Sam on the ropebridge (Via St. Christophe) (40Kb)        On the lower half of the Via St. Christophe (43Kb)

The Start of the Via St.Christophe (38Kb)        Overhanging section on Via Des Perrons (45Kb)

Topos and other useful info for french Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata.org

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İMark Page 2001