Pic N des Cavales - Le diable au corps
Ascent: First ascent: JM. Cambon and P.Fiaschi during the summer 1987.
Superb rock climbing on excellent rock and in a very wild altitude range. The climbing is primarily on slab, the equipment is almost complete. Very classic route because it is the easiest of the central part of the face.
Day 1: Climb to the Chatelleret refuge (2,232m): From La Bérarde take the well marked trail which climbs directly above the village, right bank or left bank of the Etançons torrent based on where your car is parked. At the end of the first grade first you reach the dish of Etançons, and if you climbed the left bank of the torrent in good rock, traverse it on the bridge. Stay on the left bank of the Etançons torrent, traverse it around 2093m and via the valley bottom go up in the direction of the refuge. Towards the end, the trail covers some bends. From La Bérarde to the refuge takes 2h00
Day 2: Slightly descent the trail which leaves towards the south on the left bank of the valley. Go up the Charreirou ravine via steep bends while staying well on the left side of the moraine. You will reach a traverse at the foot of the ridge of Bonnet des Cavales. Go up a very steep corridor via its base (bad rock) and then access the higher slopes at the foot of the Cirque des Cavales. Do not climb in the direction of the Cavales glacier but traverse towards the left through broad cree in the direction of the foot of the centre of the south face of the Pic Nord des Cavales. Climb until the steep firn to the right of the line of the enormous roof and just to the left of a very marked pillar-dihedral (careful steep slope and sometimes very hard snow). From the refuge to the start takes 2h00 to 2h30. From La Bérarde to the start takes 3h30 to 4h30.
Via a short first pitch (UK-4c /US-5.7) you reach a small promontory by ascending on the left. Traverse a few meters to the left then climb via cracks ascending to the left (V +, then VIa) and belay to the foot of a beautiful compact slab. For this belay, for the following pitch, there are 2 solutions: -Traverse towards the left (VIb) until an undercut crack and continue on the left to arrive behind a stem with a vertical crack (A0) and finally top out via a slab by traversing on the right (VIb). Original section, careful for rope drag. -Go up the right slab to the upper part (A0) and finish free while traversing slightly to the left (UK-5a /US-5.8). Two routes leave from the belay, ours leaves mostly on the left, go up the slabs ascending to the left on 2 pitches (V + and UK-5a /US-5.8, V +) to reach a stony ledge. Traverse the ledge on half of its pitch towards the left and reach a promontory to belay. This way you miss the large roof which bars the centre of the face. A large pitch ascends diagonally traversing towards the left and crosses a small roof barrier by avoiding the difficulties (UK-5a /US-5.8 then V +). Traverse again slightly to the left, then return to the right to go up beautiful cracks to the right (V +). Continue to the right-hand side via a crack (UK-5a /US-5.8) then top out under the roof via a traverse on the right (VIa). Go back up cracks and flutings on a short pitch (UK-5a /US-5.8) towards the right until the summit of a pillar. Directly above climb a crack (UK-4a /US-5.5) then via subsequent cracks you reach the summit (UK-5a /US-5.8). It takes 4h00 to 6h00 from the start to the summit.
Bibliography: - Oisans nouveau, oisans sauvage, book by JM.Cambon - Vallot tome 1 by F.Labande.
Descent: The descent can be carried out in 2 ways: -Rappelling down is the easiest if you want light climbing and to leave your shoes and bag at the start. It takes 1h00 to 2h00. -Descend on foot by the southern ridge (normal route): From the summit follow the edge of the ridge towards the south then leave it to follow easy ledges until a large traverse towards the south to reach a colluvium. Descend the western slope (rappel) then traverse to the side as far as the summit of a layered slab (second rappel). Traverse towards the south-east to the pass of the Clot des Cavales. From the pass you can easily reach the trail and then the foot of the face. It takes 1h00 to 2h00.
This south face only gets the sun late in the morning because it is hidden by the Grande Ruine.
This route is one of the easiest ones of the face and is entirely equipped. The approach is rather long but it is possible to bivouac at the foot of the face (numerous sites) for making several routes.
Not very unrelenting rock climbing, the pitch in A0 makes it more homogeneous than before and therefore even more interesting.
Access: From Bourg d’Oisans or La Grave go to La Bérarde via St Christophe en Oisans.
Accommodation: The approach is rather long but it is possible to bivouac at the foot of the face (numerous sites) for making several routes. Equipment maintenance was ensured by the forerunner in 1998.
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