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Brèche du Rateau: W >> E Traverse - Since Saint Christophe en Oisans

Because of the sun on the eastern slopes, it is necessary to descend rather early. You can get there from the Deux Alpes or La Grave ski lifts and Col de la Lauze or Col de la Girose, or by going up Vallon de la Selle, as described here. In this case, unless you leave very early and are very fast, it is advisable to sleep at the Selle refuge (STD) (2673m).

First day -Climb to the Selle refuge (2673m) -1050m -3h From the parking lot take a large trail on the left bank for approximately 200m and traverse the right bank of the dale just before a water intake (1690m). The easily go up the right bank of the dale, first towards the northeast, then turning regularly towards the east. When the dale widens around 2500m, you see the refuge on the left. You can finish the day with a round trip to Col de la Selle (3201m).

Second day -Traverse of  Brèche du Rateau -550m -4h The day second, an ascending traverse on the left leads to the refuge at the entrance of the Selle glacier (elevation 3000m) passing just under the southern spur of Pointe Thorant (spot elevation 2926m). You traverse south facing slopes which can be icy and require the use of  harscheisen.  A glacial slight slope without difficulty of 1.5km leads to the foot of Brêche du Rateau. You reach it via a steep snowy slope for approximately 50m at 45°, with some rocks. From the notch, you can climb the southern ridge of Rateau (PD -, crampons, ice axes, 775m of HD).

The corridor which follows on the eastern face is generally entirely skiable. The first 50 meters are steep (40°) but not too exposed or boxed in. However, a handrail safety rope is useful. To reach the bottom of Vallon des Etançons (elevation 2500m) and Chatellerêt refuge, the descent is obvious in the main part of the corridor (35° then 30°), with large damp snow avalanche balls in spring in the lower part. From there, you can descend towards Chatellerêt refuge, attended on spring weekends but not in winter.

For those who want to go to Promontoire refuge (idem) or Brêche de la Meije, it is possible to cut across the left bank to the approximate altitude of 3000 in the direction of point 2975, to pass above a large ravine, go around the spur SE of Rateau and directly reach Etançons at an altitude of around 2900, which saves 400m of HD. Be careful this short cut is exposed and requires good knowledge of the places.

From Chatellerêt, the return on Bérarde is done by following the bottom of Vallon des Etançons  (in spells of milder weather, side snowslides almost invade all the dale) then on the left bank from Plat des Etançons (1800m). Leave a car in La Bérarde. In winter, the road is not cleared beyond Champhorent, which adds 7km of cross-country skiing...

  • Difficulty: S4 - Difficult (<45°)
  • Danger/Exposure: E1 - Low
  • Total climb: 1597 m
  • Total elevation drop: 1597 m
  • Highest altitude: 3235 m
  • Lowest altitude: 1639 m
  • Extra gear: None
  • Lift access: No



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