Pas Des Charassons
There seemed to be some sort of confusion between my and Benoits maps. My old plan showed a zone marked as les Charassons somewhere above the village of la Batie. Benoits more recent 1:25000 map showed a pas des Echarassons left of the passage de lAup du Seuil. The guidebook for the area didnt shed much more light, showing a path that petered out somewhere amongst the slopes before restarting further up. It was a bit like those maps of the world explorers used in the 16th century with huge blanks and ere be dragons marked on them.
Charassons, chimney and direct couloir
So it was with a fair bit of uncertainty that we set out to find the Pas des Charassons. From the village of la Batie it seemed possible that there was a way through the cliffs and plateaux. We first checked the lAup du Seuil cirque. Apart from the main path all was well fenced and it wasnt obvious if the thin trail leading south along a steep slope was human or just the tracks left by grazing mountain goats.
First few meters in the Pas de Charassons
We tried the path that leads to le Petit Tas and as it levelled out just after a large water tank we spotted some stones laid out across the path. Odd. To the right there was a cairn, then a short steep slope and the traces of a path doubling back to the north-west. The first few meters were overgrown but it quickly turned into a proper trail through the woods. After a couple of switchbacks it definitively turned to the north. After about 15 minutes it crossed a scree slope (1485m) then a small wooded section before turning to the west and heading up the mountain in a series of zig-zags, sometimes on scree on a long couloir leading from near the top of the cliffs and sometimes in light forest.
As around 1580 meters it turned south, crossed over the couloir and we started to see some yellow marks. The track climbed steeply up a second couloir a little way then there was a short scramble onto a kind of step that followed the cliff at around 1700 meters. A longish traverse to the south followed. At some point Cheminee Directe was marked on the cliff in yellow paint. Scrambling up the grassy slope revealed a steep, rocky gorge that lead to the plains above. We were not equipped with ropes and protection so left this for another time. Another couple of hundred meters close to the cliff and the path suddenly double back on itself. Here a fixed rope enabled a short wall to be climbed. A traverse to the north via a little pass and a wooden arrow on a tree signed the way up. A scramble on a rocky slope but with plenty of footholds brought us out on the ridgeline. Here a small rock with yellow paint marked the entrance to the pas de Charassons.
Entrance to the pas de Charassons
Charassons by the Cables route
Cables route entrance
We wanted to find the entry to the Chimney. A 100 meters to the north a rockface rose out of the ridgeline. A yellow arrow showed we should walk around this to the west and a large cross admonished any thoughts of going out onto the cliffs. It was an invitation to good to pass up. The barb wire fence was easily climbed and a good path followed. Here we found some cables leading down a vertical wall. This wasnt too bad apart from the lack of footholds, what there were had been polished by the passage of many feet. A short grassy slope and a second cable. This brought us out onto a much wider, grass covered loop. 50 meters to the south we found the start of the Chimney and our original path below. To the south some steep, yellow cliffs and the start of our long couloir. This was pretty easy to climb down until we reached a 3 meter wall. There were few footholds but Benoit managed to traverse diagonally along a crack and once down spotted that a goat trail traversed and descended along the left bank avoid this obstacle. After another 100 meters we rejoined our original path.
|Summit||Pas de Charassons|
|Maps||IGN TOP 25 3334 OT Chartreuse Sud|
|GPS Waypoint||N 45.3523°, E 05.8900°|
|Grade||R4 (R5 for the Chimney)|
|Markings||Yellow on the Charassons path|
|Equipment||Rope for the direct couloir, climbing gear for the Chimney|
|Road Access||A41 Crolles exit -> N90 to la Terrace -> D30 -> D30c to la Batie|
|Guide Books||Amazon-FR:2723441067 - Route 4, pp.22/25.|
|Author||davidof 4th July 2006|
|Website||Information in French|
Unless you are combining this route with a descent by the Aup du Seuil? la Batie is the best starting point. See le Petit Tas for the first part of the route. You can climb to the Dome de Bellefont or Lance Sud des Mallisards from the Aup du Seuil valley but add 3 hours to the overall timing if you do this as it is quite a long walk with some technical scrambling for the Mallisards.
A short climb and the exit to the right
On a later visit I spoke to a regular on this route who told me that the two paths are known as the cables and the cords. However he hadnt heard of anyone climbing or descending the couloir. The Chimney is referred to as the Chiminee Ouest on Denis Barberots website.
Contributed by davidof on the 25 June 2006
Page last modified on July 05, 2006, at 06:59 AM