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French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 11 Glacier Blanc by Jane Sheehan

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French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 11 Glacier Blanc by Jane Sheehan

Before the crack of noon (7am) we all set off to Pré de Madame Carle with the intention of walking up a mountain to see a glacier.

There were 12 of us, Keith, Sara, Hanna

h and Mike, Gareth and Sarah, Ciaran, Trevor, Stuart, Nick, John and Jane. The early start was to allow us to ascend and descend avoiding the hottest part of the day. As it happened, we were lucky with the weather – it was overcast and very welcome at that.

Glacier trev
Trevor with the valley below

Le Pré de madame Carle is situated at the heart of the Massif des Écrins at the foot of Mount Pelvoux. There are two glaciers, Noir (black) and Blanc (white). We aimed for the Glacier Blanc. It’s become a favourite spot for climbers and walkers alike since the Refuge Cézanne was built and the stone road was sorted in 1934 to allow visitors to save several hours of walking from the bottom of the valley.


It is a two and a half hour walk with several options to stop. First stop is at a bridge, two hours in (see photo) the second stop was at a refuge and the third was at the glacier itself.

Those who had been before recommended hats, sunscreen, a lightweight shell and suitable footwear.

One of the highlights was to see a Marmot.

Keith and Sara stopped for lunch at the bridge. Trevor and I met Sarah at the lake before the refuge and everyone else made it to the refuge where unlike us sandwich munchers, they were able to purchase a fine omelette and a glass of something refreshing. Mike and Hannah made it to the Glacier but Ciaran and Gareth took a wrong turn and ended up higher than the glacier! That might be why they were last back!

By the time Ciaran and Gareth returned, they found us all at the restaurant at the foot of the mountain. A great day out and all returned tired but happy.

Ciaran and Gareth arriving behind Trevor at restaurant

More photographs……….

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 had a mass loss of 11 m from 1981-2005 (Rabatel et al, 2008), which is 5-10% of the total glacier volume. The series of images below are used to examine the retreat over the last 10 years of Glacier Blanc. The first image is a 2008