Ascent of L'Etale on 2021-08-25

Climber: Denise Mclellan

Others in Party:Richard Mclellan
Date:Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:8146 ft / 2482 m

Ascent Trip Report

The crux of this route is the scramble which is to the NW of the summit. This is YDS2 over 50m of height gain but the lower section is very loose, with risk of stonefall from above and we wore helmets.

We chose the Comburce trailhead at 1191m which is East of Manigod and NW of the summit. The last 500m of road is not tarmac but stone- OK for our 2WD jazz with care- and there is a red and white pole barrier, apparently permanently raised in summer. This leads to a small carpark here with a way marked trail from it, starting over the bridge over stream at the SE corner of the carpark. The yellow sign says Etale: 4hr 20 min.

The path is obvious all the way to the summit, waymarked with paint and signs, if not with cairns, and is evidently popular despite the height gain.

It initially ascends between chalets, across alpine pastures and woods, via La Turte 1364m, to emerge in a limestone outcrop and grass area. It traverses this then ascends past a spring to a col, La Creuse, at 1680m, with isolated limestone boulder, signs and path junction (? to la Charmette). Etale (2hr 45) is signed left (east) via Foiroux Couloir. From La Creuse col you can clearly see the summit ridge, left. The path then ascends to the base of a cliff, and goes SE up the left hand (north) side of the wide scree gulley to the left of the cliff then traverses right to arrive at Col de Passet 2032m. Here, various ascent routes join including ones from Chalet de Tardevant and Sous La Aiguille, so note your descent route. It's a bowl with limestone outcrops and grass and flowers. It took us just under three hours to get here. You can see the rust stained col to the left/NW of the summit and the shiny Witch's Hat survey frame on the summit of the rocky limestone ridge to to the right of the col.

The obvious path then goes left (NE) along the couloir de Foiroux, soon traversing gently upwards on a firm path across a wide scree slope . Note a cairn junction which may lead to a descent short cut to La Rousse which we did not try. The path crosses underneath the summit col and then starts climbing upwards on the far (north) side of valley. It becomes increasingly steep and loose, never more than 45 degrees but screefall from those descending is a concern. This gulley is not limestone but a softer, looser, layered rusty brown rock with near vertical rockbands. It seemed firmer on the right hand (south) side. YDS2 but particularly unstable rock from 2,400m to a small obvious col at 2430m. From here you turn right ( south) and ascend on lovely firm white limestone slabs, steep for the first 10-20m, which is much more apparent on descent! Again, never more than YDS 2. Thereafter the scramble is easy to the summit on slabs with scree in a sort of gulley, obvious route but with some rockfall danger due to others moving above.

The summit is an outcrop c20 p North of the silver painted Witch's Hat survey frame with concrete survey marker (with small indented cross) underneath. Steep drop east. Superb views and great lunch spot. It appears to be possible ( Open source map shows route and we saw figures up there) to continue along the ridge and descend via a scree slope just east of the scree fan crossed on ascent. However as it was already 15:30 and cloud was building, we felt it was too late to start without information on difficulty. So we descended the same route.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4127 ft / 1257 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4127 ft / 1257 m
    Distance:7.8 mi / 12.5 km
    Route:Foiroux couloir
    Start Trailhead:Comburce Parking E of Manigod  4019 ft / 1224 m
    Time:3 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Denise Mclellan
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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