The first ever via ferrata in France. It's part of History with a capital "H" and during some parts it's Vertiginous with a large dose of void.
Built by Lionel Condemine in 1988.
In two parts.
ViaFerrata Tips and Tricks
Lots of contact with the rock and no bars. Wear proper shoes.
Length and Altitude
Start: 1,333 m
End: 1,650 m
Length: 1,600 m.
Time of Year
April to November
1h30 to 2 hours for the first part, 3 to 4 hours for the whole thing.
Freissinière, located in the valley that goes by the same name, belongs to the Ecrins massif.
From N94, between Briançon and Mont-Dauphin, towards la Roche de Rame take D38 to the hamlet of Pallon, then D 238B to the village of Freissinières.
Cross the village and keep going a couple hundred of meters. The parking lot is on the side of the road, in a hairpin. It's not very big so it requires discipline and courtesy on busy days. As these two features have a tendancy to create havoc, let it out a bit before and everything will be alright!
Check with the SNCF: schedules and fares.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to the via ferrata from the parking lot. The trail (towards the East) leads you to the base of the cliff with red rocks. Go left to get to the ferrata.
This Ferrata is vertiginous and techinical, you won't always have your hands on metal...You will have to use the rock, in some steps that come very close to the 3+ grade. You start by climbing a rocky section and then you get to a horizontal ledge on the "Corde à Noeuds" (Rope with Knots) Wall. This leads you to the long "Minérale Gazeuse" (Vertiginous Minerals) Traverse (vertiginous sections) which has a superb panorama. After the Maquisards Grotte, the Pas Ventru, and the "Dalle au Surplomb" (Overhanging Slab), a few sections of downclimbing mark the end of the first part.
The second part goes up a wooded area on a terrace. You find the lifeline again and go up to the "Vire aux Quartz" (Quartz Ledge) and go through a gap to get to a cave. Here you will begin the most vertiginous part of the via ferrata. When you reach a big slab, "Dalles Osées" (Daring Slab), you are in a demanding and impressive section. Then it's all freewheel to the finish.
The main feature of this via ferrata is how impressive and vertiginous some sections are.
It takes one hour to get back to your ride in the parking lot.
The way down is a good vertiginous trail. Be careful.
Where to Spend the Night
Gîtes les 5 Saisons: 04.92.20.94.40. Calling from outside of France +33 04.92.20.94.40. You can rent equipment hear, eat excellent meals, and rest peacefully after physical exertion.