TOPO Via ferrata

La Falaise, via ferrata in Freissinières

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Discover a historic itinerary: the Freissinières via ferrata, the 1st ferrata built in France in 1988, based on the Italian model. Overlooking the beautiful Freissinière valley, which closes in on the southern Écrins, the aerial route is superb, taking in a succession of ledges and traverses above the void, in an environment of orange-tinged limestone. It's a logical progression, making the most of the wall's weaknesses, with excellent equipment, but where it's almost compulsory to take support and handholds directly on the rock. A beautiful south-facing route that can also be done in winter - the proof is in the pudding!

Technical summary

■ S tarting point: Freissinières, Hodouls, Massif des Écrins, Haute-Alpes (05)
Type of route: via ferrata with optional zip lines
■ Direction: south
Length: 370 m
Vertical rise: +200 m
Estimated total time: 3h to 3h30
■ Min and max altitude: 1330 m / 1600 m
Equipment in place: pins, rungs
Equipment required: standard equipment

Difficulties: AD+ or K3+, use of rock to progress, aerial ledges

Access to the place

Between l'Argentière-la-Bessée and Mont-Dauphin on the N94, turn right to reach Freissinières. At the entrance to the village, turn right towards Col d'Anon. Pass Les Hodouls and park on the first hairpin bend before the hamlet of Les Roberts. This small parking lot has a signpost with information on the ferrata and the approach trail.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30'

It's well signposted all the way to the start of the ferrata. Follow the path as it crosses to the east, gradually moving below the main wall. Further on, branch off into the forest and climb up to the foot of the wall. Here, on the right, is the return path from Clôt du Puy. To the left, it climbs even steeper along the base of the rock. We soon find the first few metres of lifeline leading back to the start, on the west side of the cliff.

Course 1h45 à 2h15

The ferrata equipped in 1988 is in very good condition, with many small pins apparently added recently to aid progress. The spacing of the rungs means that you often have to use the holds and supports offered by the rock, which has become slippery on some sections.

The majority of the equipped route is traversed on sometimes very narrow ledges or on grip. There are a few more vertical or slightly overhanging sections on the way up or down. The difficulty lies mainly in the aerial dimension of the route and the passages that have to be negotiated using the rock.

Part 1 (K2/K3, 45′ to 1h)

This first part is not very difficult and a little less aerial than the second part. 3 short vertical sections, including one between 2 boulders to reach an inclined slab on which we walk to get around a ridge and start a long aerial traverse above the Freissinières valley.

Further on, the route descends a little and follows a large re-entrant cliff face. The route then climbs up in stages, traverses again and finally descends vertically to the base of the cliff. This is the end of part 1.

An escape route at this point allows you to return avoiding the second part, which is a little longer and slightly more difficult. Alternatively, walk a little for a transition before returning to the rock.
Part 2 (K3/K3+, 1h to 1h15)

This is an aerial traverse, with no real difficulty, leading to a steep, even slightly overhanging descent. Further on, the route passes under a high pyramidal fault that forms a shelter. We exit via a narrow corridor between the wall and a boulder, before setting off again on sometimes minimal ledges.

At the end, turn around and the route climbs in the opposite direction before zigzagging, alternating between traverses and slab climbing. The exit is there, above, after a last section to be negotiated without a rung. We're almost at the top of the walls.

Back

The return path is also well signposted. Follow the path into the forest, climbing a little before reaching the Clôt du Puy (1660m). Then turn right towards Freissinières, descend into the forest to find a path that roughly retraces the route of the ferrata, but a notch lower. A beautiful aerial return with once again fine views over the Freissinières valley, leading to Les Viollins, the starting point foranother hike in the valley.

After a while, we find the fork in the approach to the base of the walls. What remains is the forest path and the traverse back to the starting parking lot.

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