From the Temple-Ecrins refuge to La Pilatte refuge

From the Temple-Ecrins refuge to La Pilatte refuge

Lake and glacier
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To go from Temple-Ecrins to La Pilatte, you pass by the wide Vénéon valley, under the impressive north face of Les Ailefroides, with the Pilatte glacier as the grande finale.

The bottom of the valley seems within reach, the mountain stream roars, the surrounding peaks are already impressive, but get bigger before your eyes. But from the flatter, welcoming section where we came down, we can see the path coming up the other side. It helps get round the difficulties and, loop after loop, makes its way through the mountains. The path is a good one, clearly marked, well built and helps create a regular rhythm without too much effort. At the top, there’s a big reward: a lovely refuge and a nice terrace on the mountainside overlooking the glacier of La Pilatte.

3 points of interest

  • Pass

    High attitude passages

    The Col de la Temple (to the east of this trail), at an altitude of 3,322 m, constitutes a relatively easy passage between the Vallouise and the Vénéon. The last access slope to the pass is occupied by a small glacier that has greatly diminished in size in recent decades. The pass seems to be free of ice, but the ice is actually hidden by the stones. The story goes that once, a priest managed to go through the pass from the Vallouise to say mass at La Bérarde. Today, the pass is mainly peopled by mountain-climbers on their way to Pic Coolidge, standing at 3,774 m.

  • Know-how

    Upkeep of the slopes and paths

    The Restauration des Terrains en Montagne (RTM, "Restoration of Mountain Land") service, now part of the ONF, has been carrying out civil engineering work to combat erosion in the ravines near the path leading to the Temple-Ecrins refuge since 1882. Permanent monitoring and major annual maintenance work are needed to maintain thresholds, wire-mesh fencing, planting indigenous species and laying turf. Each year, the park rangers set up temporary walkways across the mountain streams.

  • History

    Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans, a vast commune

    128 peaks at an altitude over 3,000 m ! This is a figure that will inspire all mountain-climbers, but it is not the only one that would surprise a budding geographer : with 123.47 km2 the commune of Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans is the most extensive in the Isère department and one of the 100 biggest communes in France. But due to its steep slopes and isolation, it is also one of the least densely populated communes with fewer than 1 inhabitant per km2.  


From the Temple-Ecrins refuge, go back down the path you came up with its stony steps that are quite high in places.Just before arriving in the valley, look for a smaller path on the left (not signposted). Follow this path to the bottom of the valley and take the left-hand fork towards La Pilatte (signposted). The footpath is a good one and pleasant, and runs slightly uphill until the footbridge across the River Vénéon. Cross the bridge and start the ascent. Don’t take the path towards the right above the footbridge (this will be the path on the way down the next day) and continue up the stony path. Head left below the Says glacier and continue upwards, loop after loop, along a good footpath around the mountainside that takes you past the obstacle of La Pilatte. You come to a wide final corridor, with a flag in the distance, then a sloping ledge. Then you arrive at La Pilatte refuge and the terrace with its breathtaking view.

  • Departure : Temple-Ecrins refuge
  • Arrival : La Pilatte refuge
  • Towns crossed : Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans

Altimetric profile


Is in the midst of the park
The national park is an unrestricted natural area but subjected to regulations which must be known by all visitors.

Information desks

, 38520 Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans - La Bérarde 76 80 50 01

Oisans Park house

Rue Gambetta, 38520 Le Bourg d'Oisans 76 80 00 51

Video presentation of the natural resources of the Oisans mountain and its crafts. Information, documentation about the Park, projections, reading space for children. Accessible to people with reduced mobility. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Find out more


Parc national des Ecrins

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