Climb Europe

Rock climbing in Ailefroide

Ailefroide is a small village located high in the Ecrins Massif National Park, at an altitude of 1,500m.  It is the 2nd largest mountaineering area in France after Chamonix, and is nestled at the foot of Mont Pelvoux (3,946m).

Surrounding Ailefroide are numerous granite walls that provide a wide variety of rock routes up to 500m high.  The main attraction for rock climbers are these long bolted multi-pitch routes up superb walls.  The style of climbing at Ailefroide is generally on slabs with some routes or pitches passing through vertical or slightly overhanging sections of rock.  Many of these routes are between 200m and 300m long, and graded between F5a to F6c.  The vast majority of the routes are well bolted (usually 2m to 3m apart), with the crux sections so well bolted that you can often aid through these (if required) by stepping in a sling or pulling the quickdraw.  All the routes will have a maximum grade and an obligatory grade to reflect this.  In total there are over 120 multi-pitch routes between 150m and 500m long across 22 sectors that face all directions so it is always possible to find the sun or the shade.

In addition to the multi-pitch routes, Ailefroide has a further 13 sport climbing areas with over 250 single pitch routes between F3c and F8a.  Ailefroide is also a great bouldering location with many granite boulders scattered around the village.

Ailefroide rock climbing logistics

All the routes and buttresses are easily accessed by walking from the village.  The approach times vary from 5 minutes to 20 minutes long, from carparks or laybys around the Ailefroide.

Briancon Climbs GuidebookAilefroide is cut off when the first snow arrives, so the rock climbing season is restricted from late May through to October.

There is a large campsite in the centre of Ailefroide that is popular with climbers.  Alternatively the town of Vallouise is only 8km down the valley and has plenty of accommodation options from companies such as AlpBase.

The Briancon Climbs Guidebook covers the single pitch and multi-pitch routes at Ailefroide, as well as the wider Haute Alps region around Briancon.

Mountaineering around Ailefroide

Ailefroide is the main starting point to access many of the classic peaks in the Ecrins Massif.  There are two peaks over 4,000m, which are the Barre des Ecrins (4,102m) and the Dome de Neige des Ecrins (4,015m).  In addition there are many 3,000m+ peaks such as Mont Pelvoux (3,946m) and Ailefroide Centrale (3,927m) that provide many excellent Alpine routes.  There are 4 huts within walking distance of Ailefroide to access these routes that are often more isolated than those in Chamonix. 

Mountaineering in the Ecrins MassifThere are several mountaineering guidebooks for the Alpine routes around Ailefroide, which are as follows:

The 3436 ET - Meije-Pelvoux Walking Map from IGN details the Ecrins and Meije Massifs at a scale of 1:25,000.

The photograph shows Ed Shaw topping out on Snoopy Direct (TD).  This sort after route is F6b max, or F5c obligatory, and is 280m long.
The photograph shows Mark Hodson topping out on Pilier du Levant (TD-).  The route on this spectacular pillar of rock is F6b max, or F5c obligatory, and is 200m long.

Briancon Climbs Guidebook

The Briancon Climbs Guidebook covers the single pitch and multi-pitch routes at Ailefroide, as well as the wider Haute Alps region around Briancon.

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