French alpinist trio opens one of the last major routes in the Alps

The French mountain guides Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruvellier de Luze are opening a new route through the previously untouched "La Gorge" on the south face of the Barre des Écrins, the southernmost 4000m peak in the Alps: De l'Or en Barre (1000m, M7 , A1, 5+, ED+).

Finding a big, obvious, and untouched line on a 2023 in 4000 is a rarity. The professional alpinist Benjamin Vedrines even speaks of "a privilege to be able to climb one of the last main routes in the Alps for the first time". Together with the mountain guides Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruvellier de Luze he opened in the south wall of the Barre des Ecrins on January 28th and 29th a new line: De l'Or en Barre (1000m, M7, A1, 5+, ED+).

"De l'Or en Barre is one of the craziest ascents I've ever experienced in the Alps."

Benjamin Vedrines
The imposing south face of the Barre des Écrins with the first ascent of the French mountain guide trio. Image: Benjamin Vedrines
The imposing south face of the Barre des Écrins with the first ascent of the French mountain guide trio. Picture: Benjamin Vedrines

Famous, infamous, untouched

"La Gorge" on the south face of the southernmost four-thousander in the Alps is well known to local mountaineers, says Benjamin Védrines. Feared in the summer because of its rockfalls and hitherto untouched, it gave them a very big moment in alpinism.

"I thank my comrades for believing in this dream. And I thank the elders for letting us have this gem."

Benjamin Vedrines

The professional mountaineer had been toying with the idea of ​​climbing the gorge for a long time. The line was evident but rarely found in favorable conditions. At the end of January it was time. On January 28, 2023, the three climbers climbed the south face and reached the summit at 19 p.m. the following day.

In the evening of the second day of climbing, Julien Cruvellier de Luze, Nicolas Jean and Benjamin Védrines reach the top of the Barre des Écrins.
In the evening of the second day of climbing, Julien Cruvellier de Luze, Nicolas Jean and Benjamin Védrines reach the top of the Barre des Écrins. Picture: Benjamin Vedrines

De l'Or en Barre: Several big fights

The first ascent of the legendary gully in the south face of the Barre des Écrins was a challenge in many ways and held several big battles for each of them, says Benjamin Védrines.

As an example, he cites the long ascent from Champhorent, the «Himalaya»-like conditions and dimensions, the first hard rope length on the first day with overhanging climbing on typical Écrins rock, unexpected ice or the unforgettable bivouac in a large snow hole high up in the wall.

"And especially where we couldn't imagine getting through, where we thought we had to get down again, I remember the crazy pitch that Nicolas Jean climbed."

Benjamin Vedrines
  • On January 28th and 29th, 2023, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruv ellier de Luze will open "De l'Or en Barre" through the south face of the Barre des Écrins. Image: Benjamin Vedrines
  • On January 28th and 29th, 2023, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruv ellier de Luze will open "De l'Or en Barre" through the south face of the Barre des Écrins. Image: Benjamin Vedrines
  • On January 28th and 29th, 2023, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruv ellier de Luze will open "De l'Or en Barre" through the south face of the Barre des Écrins. Image: Benjamin Vedrines
  • On January 28th and 29th, 2023, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruv ellier de Luze will open "De l'Or en Barre" through the south face of the Barre des Écrins. Image: Benjamin Vedrines

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Credits: Cover picture Benjamin Vedrines

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