Pyrenean Ice - GavarnieDuration 8 Days » Grade Intermediate
Pyrenean Ice Photo: © Tom Briggs
The main venue for this new 6-day ice climbing course is the Cirque de Gavarnie [photos] in the French Pyrenees. Gavarnie has over fifty recorded ice climbs spread across a huge amphitheatre, which is split into three levels by two large terraces. Climbs on the first level begin at 1,500m and are around 350m high or 6 pitches. The cirque is north facing and through the months of December - February, climbers from Spain and France are regularly drawn to the superb, sustained cascade climbing on offer. On the whole, Gavarnie has yet to be discovered by British climbers. Where it's now commonplace to see other Brits in Cogne and La Grave, you are unlikely to meet any in Gavarnie. If you have ice climbed before in Chamonix, Cogne or La Grave and are looking for something new or different, we highly recommend Gavarnie.
Many of the cascades at Gavarnie were first climbed in the 1970's and 1980's by guide, Dominique Julien. In the winter of 1984, he established Thanatos with Serge Cateran, the first cascade in France graded WI6. Dominique is now retired, but lives nearby in Pau, and has published a number of photographic books of the Pyrenees. Other well-known alpinists who have left their mark on Gavarnie include ice climbing afficiandos, Patrick Gabarrou and the late Godefroy Perroux. Jagged Globe Course Director, Richard Dupont, is also responsible for first ascents, including the difficult IV/WI6/A1"Lowe, Love me do", which his friend, Remi Laborde, another local guide. In March 2003, Richard, Remi and Jarome Thiniares enchained three routes (1,500m of relief with 750m of climbing) in the cirque - one on each tier - in 17 hours of climbing!
In addition to Gavarnie, there are other climbing options accessible from our hotel base. These include Gourette, where the superb Rognon du Ger and the Pene Blanque are accessible from a ski lift. Or there are 'goulotte' routes in the mountains, which we might climb later in the week. These could include the Couloir de Gaube on The Vignemale (3,300m), or a route on the North West Face of the Taillon (3,100m).
Experience RequiredThis course is guided at 1:2 ratio. Classic cascades such as "La Freezante" (WI4) , "Fluide Glacial" (WI4) and "Ice Folle" (WI4+) are achievable for those with previous ice climbing experience. As a minimum, we would recommend having completed a Chamonix Long Weekend course or in Scotland, our Snow and Ice Climbing course.
Course Director - Richard DupontCourse Director and IFMGA Guide, Richard Dupont, was born in Annecy but has lived in Luz for the past 25 years. Additional English-speaking IFMGA guides from Luz and the local area will also work on the courses, depending on numbers. Richard guides each summer on Jagged Globe Alpine Mountaineering courses, and has climbed with Jagged Globe Director, Tom Briggs, in Gavarnie. Richard speaks excellent English, knows the local climbing as well as anyone and is of course very familiar with the climbing conditions. In his back yard at Gavarnie, you could not wish for a more hospitable ice climbing guide... [read more]
Accommodation, Travel, Inclusions and ExclusionsOur base for the Gavarnie Ice course is the delightful mountain village of Luz St Sauveur, just 25 minutes drive from the Cirque. Luz is a sunny little town with a 12th Century church and many beautiful buildings in the old part of town where we stay... [read more]
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If you have the skills & fitness required, then Jagged Globe offers a wide range of exciting expeditions [read more]
Other Courses at this Grade
These courses have a similar grade and might also suit you. They are all considered to be 'intermediate courses'.