Le Grand Rocher

Ski-Areas > Northern Alps > Isère (38) > Belledonne > Col du Barioz > le Grand Rocher

The Grand Rocher is a firm favourite on days of high avalanche risk and poor weather as it is largely tree lined on forest trails. I checked the local avalanche zoning plans and there are no avalanche paths on the normal route (although the slopes towards the cul de Pet can be avalanche prone. This is no 100% guarantee of security but the route is not threatened from avalanches higher up the mountain as the summit ridge is at 1900m. There is frequently a corniche on the Grand Rocher ridge which should be treated with respect. It should be noted that the slopes above the Chalet de Pierre Roubet are steep and open.

There are various starting points. The lowest that is reasonable practical in a normal winter is the small parking by the bus stop between les Vincents and la Coche (GPS: N 45.3237°: E 06.0237°, 894 meters). This gives over 1000 vertical meters of climbing. The route tracks straight across a large open field to pick up a footpath at the far end. This eventually leads to the ski de fond pistes and the track that leads to the Chalet de Pierre Roubet. Route finding on the way down is tricky, be sure to note which path you need to take.

Chalet de Pierre Roubet
Chalet de Pierre Roubet

Higher up is the Col du Barioz proper (1041 meters) but as local John Rees has noted you must be careful not to obstruct the junction. From here you take the Balcon de Sept Laux trail crossing the fields to the Granges de Pre Farme and following the woodland path. When the snow is poor you can even park at the cross-country skiing center but this entails using a section of the cross country ski piste which in theory contravenes a local bye-law. You can eat at the ski center. Whichever route you take as you climb you will cross a number of cross country ski pistes, be careful not to damage their tracks.

After the Chalet de Pierre Roubet (closed) turn south-east to climb a slope which eventually leads to a ridge (danger corniche), the Grand Rocher is now due south (GPS: N 45.3034°, E 06.0501°, 1926 meters). The best skiing is on the slopes above the Chalet. It is also possible to cut through the forest to recover the ski de fond trail but the woodland is dense and this can disturb hibernating wildlife.

If you are parked at les Vincents and by mistake arrive at the Col du Barrioz beware that there are some steep slopes above la Coche and it is a difficult traverse despite looking tempting initially.

Mountain RangeBelledonne
Summitle Grand Rocher
Altitude1926 meters
OrientationWest / North/West
Starting Altitude894 meters
Vertical930 meters
Mapse.g. IGN TOP 25 3334 OT Chartreuse Sud
GPS WaypointN 45.3034°, E 06.0501°
GPS RouteGoogle-Earth:
Grade[1]Danger: 1, Climb: F, Ski: 1.1
CommentsTake care crossing the cross-country skiing tracks
EquipmentNothing special
Road AccessA41 -> Brignoud -> Theys -> col du Barrioz -> Cross country ski area

Trip Reports

11th November 2010

There had been quite a lot of snow over the last few days accompanied by strong winds so I didn't fancy exploring anywhere too high where the avalanche risk was higher. I arrived at the Barrioz ski area where the road was snow covered, ice at first then 15cm of fresh. I arrived at the car-park and was the only car at 9am. People were obviously having a lie in as this is a very popular place for ski tourers, walkers and snow-shoers. I was to cross them all on the way down. So I had some 600 meters of climbing, through 20cm of fresh then 30 to 40cm. I guess someone has to make first tracks but it was hard work in a dense powder. Views were somewhat obscured at the summit by cloud.

The ski down lacked enough slope in the dense powder. It was probably better on the nearby ski slopes but that would have not had the same ambiance.


  • Participants: David
  • Weather: Sunny, cold, some cloud
  • Avalanche risk: Moderate (2/5)

14th February 2007

We had planned to go to the col du Aigleton but the avalanche and weather conditions, plus this being Sylvie's first outing of the season lead us over to the surer option of the Barrioz cross-country skiing tracks. There was rain at the car-park which continued more or less all the way to the summit. The powder from yesterday was pretty saturated and heavy to ski. The best snow was just off the summit and above the chalet. Quite a few tracks from other skiers. The Belledonne and Chartreuse are lacking a lot of snow. The Security Civile rescue helicopter was hovering over les 7 Laux ski resort.

  • Participants: David, Anny, Luc, Sylv'
  • Weather: light rain, cloudy
  • Avalanche risk: Moderate (2/5)
  • Video: Grand Rocher

14th January 1998

A little afternoon outing to test the snow after being trapped inside due to bad weather. I parked at the col du Barrioz and took the forest paths to the summit. These were quite well tracked. The snow was a bit crusty higher up where it had taken some wind or sun. Fantastic views of the Breda and Gresivaudan valleys before skiing down to the car under the setting sun.

col du barioz
Sunset behind the Vercors
  • Participants: David, two skiers at the summit and a x-country skier on the runs
  • Weather: cold and sunny
  • Avalanche risk: Low (1/5)

Category: Trip Reports

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