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2022 LCC Alpine Holiday to Durance Region in France Day 8 Saturday: Option A Glacier Blanc by Oscar Kelly, Option B Lac de l’Eychauda by Stuart Toulson and Option C Briançon by Sara Gille

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Day 8 Saturday: Option A Glacier Blanc by Oscar Kelly

Day 8 and the mountaineering stage of the LCC Alps trip was upon us. A merry band of intrepid explorers set out at 0700 from base camp at L’Argentiere la Bessee, with only a few minor grumbles about the ungodly hour. After the obligatory stop at a patisserie for a healthy breakfast of chocolaty croissanty goodness all 13 travellers congregated at 0800 at the renowned French toilets at the start of the Glacier Blanc trail.

When we reached the plateaux with the famous glacier view from the bridge, 9 determined hikers smiled for the obligatory LCC Glacier photo. Tragically the glacier is evidently retreating due to global warming. LCC photos from as recently as 2008 clearly show the glacier retreating by as much as a kilometre over the last 14 years. The effects of recent high temperatures have also been observed in the low water levels in the rivers.

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After the photo shoot 8 daring souls continued up the mountain side, these brave men and women were: Leanne, Steph, Nick, Noah, Sara, Keith S, Nikki, and Oscar. We wound our way up to the refuge with only a minor delay when Sara managed to get lost on the flattest straightest part of the route. Once at the refuge cold liquid refreshments were giddily brought and consumed with a lovely picnic. (2 lunch) Nick Coughlin, not wanting to miss out on his routine and in spite of already demolishing a jar of pate and half a baguette, knocked back a fromage omelette and half a lager. Said omelette was clearly more cheese than egg and had everyone else salivating.

After much discussion, and no little peer pressure, all 8 of the refugees decided to scale the full mountain for a second photo shoot standing on the glacier. After a hard hours climb we made it, touched the ice, and smiled for the camera. Only down was left to go. Finally, after 8 hours on the mountain and a very hot and sweaty descent all the explorers were reunited with their loved ones at the bottom. Despite the sad retreat of the glacier, it was an excellent day out with everyone enjoying a well-deserved beer and rest back at base camp.

Special note to (non)paddler of the day – Noah Gavin – to make the day even harder Noah eschewed traditional mountaineer footwear and scaled the heights wearing just a pair of knackered old Vans.

More photographs……

Glacier Blanc (like 90% of the worlds glaciers) has been retreating (Shrinking) over the last 100 years due mainly to global warming.

Glacier Blanc is on the east side of Barre Des Ecrins the southernmost of the 4000 m peaks in the Alps. It is the largest glacier on the peak. The glacier began a sustained retreat after 1870, that ceased in 1895-1900 , 1915-1920, 1935-1940 and 1980-1990 (Cossart et al, 2006). The glacier has shrunk by 5-10% of the total glacier volume during 1981-2005 (Rabatel et al, 2008). The series of images below are used to examine the retreat over the last 12 years of Glacier Blanc. The first image is a 2008










Day 8 Saturday: Option B Lac de l’Eychauda by Stuart Toulson

Lac de l’ Eychauda 2514m

I first had the idea for the walk during lockdown, whilst looking through the Camping Les Écrins website. Lac de l’ Eychauda is an azure blue glacial lake or Cirque.

Roy and I set out for the 30minute car journey, calling at the supermarket on the way. Driving up the Vallouise valley we headed towards our start point of Chambran.

The small, free car park held about 30 vehicles; next it was a small wooden cafe with shaded seating areas. After loading up the rucksacks and applying copious amounts of sun cream, we headed up the valley cooled by the gentle breeze.

In the valley lived and worked a shepherdess who looked after large herds of local sheep, living in a tiny stone building. We followed the waymarked path towards the wall of the cirque which seemed quite near at the start. However, as we progressed the wall became further and further away. Getting gradually steeper the rest periods became more frequent. Roy mentioned that the few people that we met were very friendly and all said good day.

We finally made it to the lake after 2 1/4 hours, we found a suitable sheltered site away from the wind and settled down for a long-awaited lunch.

The descent took only an hour, and we were relieved to have a cool drink in the cafe in the car park.

More photographs……

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Day 8 Saturday: Option C Briançon by Sara Gille

Day 8 Saturday: Climbing Competition

In the evening some of us wandered up to the town to watch the finals of the weeklong boulder competition.

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