The Mighty La Meije - 3982m - Hiking to Refuge de Chatelleret and towards Col du Replat from La Berarde

La Meije, Ecrins National Park, Alps, FranceAfter our hike to Refuge Pilatte the previous day, another very early and freezing cold start on Sunday morning saw us heading north into the Vallon des Etancons, aiming to reach the Refuge de Chatelleret at 2225m and possibly on towards the Refuge Le Promontoire at 3092m. A short climb out of La Berarde preceded a long but undemanding approach to the head of the valley through gentle green pastures and over rocky paths, with the waterfall decorated steep sides of the valley rising on both sides.

La Meije, Ecrins National Park, Alps, FranceLooking longingly at the shadow on the right side of the valley creeping painfully slowly to the bottom of the valley to warm our freezing fingers, the moment finally arrived after 2 hours just as we were arriving at the Refuge de Chatteleret. Celebrating with a tasty breakfast of oats and raisins and removing our winter layers, we stared up the head of the valley at the precariously positioned Refuge Promontoire another 900m above. Perched on a rocky outcrop beneath the imposing peak of La Meije at 3982m and surrounded by glacial scree, the refuge looks like an unlikely addition to the mountainside and like it might fall at any time.

La Meije, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France
With most of the day still ahead we decided to push on, following a sign to Col du Replat which we believed to offer a route to the higher refuge (even though it initially went in another direction). As it turned out we were wrong about the route and after an hour of stiff climbing and traverse over a rocky scree we reach an impasse where the way forward was no longer a 'hiking trail'. Watching people above in helmets and mountaineering gear we realised we had taken a wrong turning and retraced our steps back to the lower refuge where we stopped to prepare our lunch. 

La Meije, Ecrins National Park, Alps, FranceSitting in the sunshine, enjoying our soup and staring up at the peak of La Meije we reflected that you could fit the entirety of Ben Nevis easily between us that high summit which really bought home the scale of this place. As we headed back for home that afternoon, the afternoon sun once again heating the ground in massive contrast the to icy morning, we felt over awed by the scale of this place. Massive peaks, massive glaciers, massive valleys and massive views. It really is a hikers paradise and we feel in no rush to leave, despite the freezing nights!

Click here for 7 reasons to visit the Ecrins National Park

Click here for details of 6 amazing hikes in the Ecrins National Park

Click here to see our other walks in the French Alps

Walk Information:
Motorhome Base: La Berarde
Start/ End Point: La Berarde
Distance: approx 5km to Refuge Chatelleret
Time Taken: 6 hours
Level: Moderate / Hard
Map: IGN Map 3436ET: Meije-Pelvoux / Parc National Des Ecrins 1:25,000
OR: Rando Editions Carte de Randonnees 'Ecrins' 1:50,000





Vallon de Etancons, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

Vallon de Etancons, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

Vallon de Etancons, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

Vallon de Etancons, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

Vallon de Etancons, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

La Meije, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

La Berarde, Ecrins National Park, Alps, France

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Adventures In Life, Love, Health, Travel... & Puppies!: The Mighty La Meije - 3982m - Hiking to Refuge de Chatelleret and towards Col du Replat from La Berarde
The Mighty La Meije - 3982m - Hiking to Refuge de Chatelleret and towards Col du Replat from La Berarde
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Adventures In Life, Love, Health, Travel... & Puppies!
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