Ascent of Le Rocher Blanc on 2021-08-20

Climber: Denise Mclellan

Others in Party:Richard Mclellan
Date:Friday, August 20, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Le Rocher Blanc
    Elevation:9606 ft / 2927 m

Ascent Trip Report

Our descent route was more efficient than the ascent route but it made a good circuit. The critical path junction at 45.23135N;6.127745E is hard to locate on ascent. The OSMAND digital map used by us was not really enough!

The trailhead is by a bridge on the NW end of Lac (reservoir) de Grand Maison by Chalets de Rien Claret where there is roadside parking at 1740m. The obvious path goes from the south side of the bridge, but the more efficient route ( which we took in descent) is much less obvious, on the N side with single stone marker over grass c 50 m from bridge, opposite car parking ( not accessed from the track close/ N of to the river). Whichever route you take you follow the river Claret uphill over bilberry slopes to reach the E side of a gulley, where the valley narrows, at c 2000m. The valley then widens again and the path follows the base of a scree fan descending from the NW. At roughly the same place the scree ends the river splits- Rieux Claret goes NW and Ruisseau de Buyard goes SW/ W. We followed the more obvious path west along the Ruisseau de Buyard up to the obvious col ahead. We could not identify the path which follows the Rio Claret valley north uphill towards some huge rock slabs. Even on descent the path junction is very hard to see as bilberry bushes obscure it. But it gets much more distinct higher up.

We continued up to a col west with three notches. We went up to the south (lowest) notch over some lovely slabs to reach a large square cairn at 2435m. From here we picked our way north and up, below some cliffs, along the side of the slope on a vague path with cairns, all quite pleasant. The cairns then took us upwards and NW to 2700m at the edge of the lac de l'Armiente. This small lake had ice floating in it and had snow patches at its edge with snow continuing upwards to a rocky ridge. The summit is at the right/ N end of the ridge. From the N side of the lake we go up an easy soft snow patch, then a gravelly zig zag path, up the centre of the slope under the ridge . The ridge is at 2830m and we gain it c 200 m N of the mapped location of the col de l'Armiente . To our N is a rubbly cone of mountain- neither steep nor far and with various cairned routes on it. We stayed just left of a direct line up from the ridge. YDS1+ scramble. At the rubbly summit area is a 2m*2m*3m stone plinth with a flat top and small aerial. 4hr 45min including a 30 min stop for lunch .

We descended via a different route. First, we retraced steps down the rubbly cone to the ridge and back to the lac de l'Armiente. Then we headed in a generally SE direction on a flattish terrace of rock and grass and gravel, picking up a cairned route which descends gradually til we reach a damp area with pools at 2400m, presumably the source of the river Claret (western branch). The route then goes more east til we reach a confluence at c2380m, and the river Claret turns south down the valley more steeply. We cross to the E side of the river, still following cairns, noting c 1000 sheep grazing, with shepherd and dogs nearby. The river tumbles down steeply; the well cairned path takes a slightly more circuitous route, but keeping east of the river down to 2100m. Once it reaches the bilberry bushes- c the last 250m, it's much harder to follow but joins our ascent path at c 2110m close to the confluence of the Claret and Buyard rivers. (critical path junction is at 45.23135N;6.127745E). We then follow the obvious path E and sometimes high above the Claret river back to the car. 2.5 hours down. 8 miles in total.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3806 ft / 1160 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3806 ft / 1160 m
    Distance:7.1 mi / 11.4 km
    Start Trailhead:5800 ft / 1767 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Denise Mclellan
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