Le Grand Colon East Face

Ski Areas > Northern Alps > Belledonne > Freydière > Le Grand Colon East Face


From the parking at Freydière or Pre Reymond (from the start of April) follow the large forest track to the south-west. After about half an hour take a narrow zig-zag track (point 1570 meters on the IGN map) to the left. This leads out under the north couloir of the Grand Colon. In late spring this is the normal snowline.

Traverse the avalanche debris then climb to the left to reach the lac du Crozet. Follow the tracks along the right bank of the lake. The traverse is quite steep and snow purges can come from the Dentes du Loup so do not cross too late in the day, however there is no real difficulty in spring snow. On the other hand when the snow is hard and there are few tracks ski crampons should be fitted to avoid a cold, and potentially lethal, bath in the lake.

At the start of the Vallon du Mercier fork to the west, cross the Mercier stream and climb the valley between le Galeteau to the left and the Roche Fendue to the right. The valley steepens but is never more than 30º. At around 2300 métres the valley exits onto a col behind the Roche Fendue. Climb a bit to the left up a steepish slope to reach the ridge that leads to the Grand Colon.


The Galeteau is worth a detour if you have enough time. It is rarely visited but the slick north facing "dailles" have been skied.

When the snow is lacking on the right bank of the Lac du Crozet it is possible to return on the left bank... usually from mid to late May.

Mountain RangeBelledonne
SummitLe Grand Colon
Altitude2394 meters
Starting Altitude1130 meters
Vertical1265 meters
MapsIGN TOP 25 n°3335 OT
GPS WaypointN 45.1631°, E 05.9268°
GPS RouteGoogle-Earth:
Grade[1]Danger: 1, Climb: PD, Ski: 2.2
CommentsTake care on the lac du Crozet traverse. This is an early morning route in late spring
SnowboardersA lot of traversing
EquipmentSki crampons
Road AccessA41 -> Domene -> D11 -> Revel -> D11 -> le Rousset -> Freydière
RefugesRefuge de la Pra?, Baraque du Colon?


It was nearly summer, I was living in Antibes on the South Coast at the time and had already been swimming for a month in our open air pool but traveling up to Grenoble I saw that there was still snow on the peaks of the Belledonne. I knew that from the Lac du Crozet at around 1800 meters I would find snow right to the top of the Belledonne, the only thing that could stop me bagging a last days skiing was the weather. As so often happens the spring weather can be unstable, you have to take what chances are offered. I started out a bit late on this Sunday morning, too late to tackle the long climb to the Belledonne and even though it was sunny clouds hovered around the summits.

The parking at Pre Reymond or that at the Quatre Chemins a little higher up is the usual starting point for this tour. At 1372 meters it reduces the climbing although there is rarely enough snow to ski on in the woods this late in the season. A large track used by forestry vehicles leads directly up from the car park, a little further up an arrow indicates that you should turn left onto a narrow zig-zag path, this eventually exits onto the North Face of the Grand Colon (another classic route that borders on extreme skiing). There is a large avalanche as you exit the forest and I put my skis and skins on here.

I quickly climbed up and past the frozen lake and started up on the track towards the Belledonne, it was then that I spied two skiers heading up an east facing valley towards... what? Well they must be tackling the Grand Colon but from an easier angle than the North face. I decided to follow. A long traverse across the Mercier valley to the west lead to a steep but wide valley with the Roche Fendue to the right. I caught the other skiers towards this point, one of them was making much slower progress. The ridge got tricky and turned into a narrow traverse between a number of tops. The last of these was the Colon. My fellow skiers and I settled down amidst the sun and swirling clouds. Grenoble was not visible but we had a clear view of the surrounding peaks. The other two skiers left their sacks and did a few linked turns in spring snow on the wide expanse of the summit. This vast snowfield, gently angled at around 15 degrees at first, is clearly visible from the valley.

Contributed by davidof on the 10th May 2000

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