Pas Des Charassons

Hiking -> Routes? -> Chartreuse -> Pas Des Charassons


There seemed to be some sort of confusion between my and Benoit’s maps. My old plan showed a zone marked as “les Charassons” somewhere above the village of la Batie. Benoit’s more recent 1:25000 map showed a “pas des Echarassons” left of the passage de l’Aup du Seuil. The guidebook for the area didn’t 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 l’Aup du Seuil cirque. Apart from the main path all was well fenced and it wasn’t obvious if the thin trail leading south along a steep slope was human or just the tracks left by grazing mountain goats.

Charassons entrance

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.

Charassons chimney

The Chimney

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.

Charassons entrance stone

Entrance to the pas de Charassons

Charassons by the Cables route

Charassons cables

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 wasn’t 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.

Mountain RangeChartreuse
SummitPas de Charassons
MapsIGN TOP 25 3334 OT Chartreuse Sud
GPS WaypointN 45.3523°, E 05.8900°
GPS RouteGoogle-Earth:Chartreuse
Grade[1]R4 (R5 for the Chimney)
MarkingsYellow on the Charassons path
EquipmentRope for the direct couloir, climbing gear for the Chimney
Road AccessA41 Crolles exit -> N90 to la Terrace -> D30 -> D30c to la Batie
Starting Altitude1060m
Time3 hours
Guide BooksAmazon-FR:2723441067 - Route 4, pp.22/25.
Authordavidof 4th July 2006
WebsiteInformation 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.

Pas des Charassons

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 hadn’t 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

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