Undiscovered Alps

Taking you off the tourist track, we specialise in adventure and multi activity holidays in the beautiful and undiscovered parts of the Southern French Alps

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Description of Undiscovered Alps

We specialise in adventure and multi activity holidays in the beautiful and undiscovered parts of the Southern French Alps situated just on the edge of the Ecrins National Park - Champsaur, Valgaudemar and Devoluy

With a diverse range of activities, unrivaled scenery and wildlife and 300 days of sunshine per year it's the perfect place to spend you holiday, summer or winter!

We have developed close links with the local guides and residents, so we can help you find the hidden gems of the area. We've done the research, so you can concentrate on enjoying your adventures.

We have got a variety of accommodation, from converted chateaux to camping, and can even arrange a night in a hammock in the woods, or, if you are here in winter, you can sleep in an igloo!

In spring and summer you can walk (we have a great variety of day walks and long distance routes for all ages and abilities), mountain bike, raft, kayak, canyon, Via Ferrata, tree climb, giant tyrolean zip line, paraglide, climb a classic alpine summit.... it's a true adventure playground just waiting to be discovered!

In winter you can ski, snowboard, husky dog sled, ice dive, snowshoe, cross country ski, snow mountain bike, ski tour, ice climb, snowscoot, ....sleep in an igloo... and more! We can arrange a classic Skiing or Snowboarding holiday for you or mix and match it with other activities to create your multi activity winter mountain adventure.

At Undiscovered Alps we believe family holidays should be a fun and exciting adventure and this is why we started offering bespoke family adventure holidays. Our extensive range of activities means we have something for everyone from Grandma to Toddler. Your holiday can be completely customised so that you can do the activities you want to do in the safe hands of our qualified and experienced guides and instructors.

Whatever holiday you choose, we will be on hand in the valleys to make sure it runs smoothly and that you get the most out of the area.

Read more at http://www.undiscoveredalps.com

Photos of Undiscovered Alps

Snowshoeing - one of our many fantastic routes!

Snowshoeing - one of our many fantastic routes!Enlarge

Ice climbing in the French Alps

Ice climbing in the French AlpsEnlarge

Lareg river kayaking

Lareg river kayakingEnlarge

Paragliding in the French ALps

Paragliding in the French ALpsEnlarge

Via Ferrata in the French Alps

Via Ferrata in the French AlpsEnlarge

Mountaineering in the French Alps

Mountaineering in the French AlpsEnlarge

Activities at Undiscovered Alps

Abseiling

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Like Abseiling? Why not try it as aprt of a climbing adventure week with Undiscovered Alps, or as part of a summer multi activity holiday?

Boulder, climb, scramble, via ferrata and abseil all in a week with Undiscovered Alps

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Bouldering

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Take part in some fantastic bouldering in the Southern French Alps. We can arrange this as part of a multi activity week, or perhaps you would like a climbing specific week? Bouldering, Multi pitch routes and maybe even a summit expedition to culminate the week?! Get in touch now!

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Caving

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Right next to Champsaur is Devoluy, a huge limestone massif with over 600 caves. It's one of the best places for caving in the world and really is an immense underground playgound.

Hidden away in this underground labyrinth you can find streams and lakes, climb in ice caves and walk through the heart of an underground glacier. You'll see beautiful formations of stalactites (the tights are the ones that fall down!) and stalagmites, walk through grand caverns fit for a banquet and crawl through small secret passage ways.

Of course you won't do all that in one trip!! But there is a cave for everyone - from experienced cave explorers to children going underground for the first time.

You don't need to have had any experience to go caving - there are lots of spectacular trips that are very easy. But, for some caving trips, like the ice caves, you will need to have had some experience. It is possible to gain that experience here. You can go for an introduction caving trip where you will learn the different techniques you will need to be able to do some of the more difficult caves. The guide will only take you down a cave if he thinks you are competent.

Unless you are a very experienced caver you will need to go caving with a guide who knows the caves. One of the main hazards in caving is getting lost underground, which when there are vertical drops of 100 m, deep lakes and fast moving streams to negotiate, can be very dangerous.

Our caving guides are very experienced and fully qualified to European standards. They are local to the area and know the system intimately. They will share their passion for their underground world safely and securely so that you can enjoy it!

You can book caving as part of an activity holiday or we can organise a week of pure caving for you.

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High Ropes

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Hurtle down a zip wire, climb up a spider net, negotiate the wobbly log staircase, tip toe across the tightrope wire.... High Ropes Adventure Courses are designed to challenge you vertically, horizontally and personally!

They are essentially elaborate obstacle courses set up in the trees. You wear a harness and protective gloves and using the network of safety wires (to make sure you don't fall off) you navigate your way around the courses.

In the Champsaur and Valgaudemar valley we have 6 different high ropes adventure course centres, including the biggest in Europe - Jungle Aventure.

Each centre has a choice of routes you can do and cater for children right through to dare devil thrill seekers.

The extreme courses really are challenging and you won't be allowed to do them until you have proven your ability on an initiation course - so be prepared!

They really are great fun and a definite 'must try' on any activity holiday.

Before starting the course you will be given a thorough safety briefing and the instructors will be continuously checking that you are moving safely once you are on the course.

All the centres we use conform to European safety standards and are continually supervised by experienced and qualified staff.

We can organise a week of high ropes adventure courses for you, or can include it as part of your multi activity holiday.

If you would like to find out more or are interested in booking a holiday, please send us a request through our booking page with your questions and / or ideal holiday wishes and we'll get back to you.

See packages for prices

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Horse Riding

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Trot through the woods, negotiate little rocky paths and gallop through the alpine meadows amongst the butterflies and flowers....

Horses and ponies were the original means of transport in the Alps. Their stamina and agility far outdid any means of wheeled transport for some time!!

Along with donkeys, they are still used today for transporting supplies up to some of the mountain refuges, but most are ridden for pleasure.

Sitting up high on your horse is a great way to appreciate the mountains and views and there are several riding schools in the area, with a range of horses and ponies suitable for beginners through to experienced riders.

Experienced riders can go for a day trek through the woods, picnic and swim in the lake with the horses and then ride back along the river. A fantastic day out with a bit of a 'trapper' feel about it!

Or if you aren't sure you can last a day in the saddle, you can go for a 1/2 day trek or even just a short ride for an hour or so.

If you fancy a real adventure, you can ride out in the afternoon to a tee-pee camp, make your fire and bbq and sleep under canvas, ready to ride back out again in the morning. American Indians in the Alps!

Younger children can go out on a pony trek on easy trails and tracks - a great introduction to horse riding in the mountains.

All the riding schools we use are fully licensed and the instructors are all qualified equestrian instructors with years of experience with horses and ponies in the mountains. The animals are healthy and well cared for.

We can organise a horse riding holiday for you or arrange it as a part of a multi activity holiday.

If you would like to find out more or are interested in booking a holiday with horse riding, please send us a request through our booking page with your questions and / or ideal holiday wishes and we'll get back to you.

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Kayaking

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The Southern Alps is famous for it's white water and kayakers from all over the world come here in the spring and summer to take advantage of the melting snow and ice and paddle amongst the stunning mountain scenery.

To kayak on white water you need to have had some experience of kayaking before but it is possible to learn the basics on flat water and then progress to the rivers quite quickly.

The best time of year for white water is in the spring and early summer when the snow and ice are melting. Glacier fed rivers last for longer and can be paddled right up until the end of summer.

To kayak on lakes, you can go at any time of year, although it's better in the spring, summer and early autumn before it gets too cold!

All rivers are graded according to their difficulty:

Grade 1: Easy - moving water with occasional small rapids.

Grade 2: Moderate - small rapids with regular waves. Some manouvering required.

Grade 3: Difficult - rapids with irregular waves and hazards that need avoiding. More difficult manouvering required.

Grade 4: Very Difficult - Large rapids that require careful manouvering. Continous, powerful, confused water makes route finding difficult. Kayakers should be able to roll.

Grade 5: Extremely difficult - long and violent rapids with severe hazards. Precise manouvering is critical for kayakers and rolling ability needs to be 100%.

Grade 6: Nearly Impossible - Difficulties of grade 5 carried to the extreme of navigability. Considerable risk to life in the event of a mishap.

However, grades can change depending on the water level and local conditions.

The river Drac (grade 2 / 3) runs through the valley of Champsaur and is ideal for beginners. The Severaisse (grade 3 /4) runs through the valley of Valgaudemar. And for more experienced kayakers you have the Bonne (grade 2 - 5). the Guil (3 - 5), the Ubaye (3 -5) and the Durance (2 - 5) within an hour and a half from the valleys.

It is possible to go kayaking as part of a multi activity holiday or you can spend the week really getting to know the rivers and just stick to pure kayaking!

Have a look at some of our fantastic photo albums of our kayaking holidays in the French Alps on Flickr!
Beginners
If you want to have a go at kayaking white water we can organise a course for you, starting on flat water and then progressing onto the rivers. Have a look at our Kayak the Alps Beginners Holiday Offer.

There is also a spectacular trip you can do on the Lac du Sautet through the gorge. It is all on flat water so anyone can do it and it takes about 3 hours.

Intermediate
If you have some experience of kayaking grade 2 / 3 rivers and want to improve your technique and challenge yourself on something more difficult, we can create a course for you, starting on the Drac (grade 2 /3 ) and progressing onto harder rivers throughout the week. Have a look at our Kayak the Alps trip for for more experienced paddlers.

Experienced
If you are a group of experienced paddlers, we can organise a fantastic week of guided paddling with river shuttles and accommodation and a local guide so you can really make the most of the rivers.

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Mountaineering

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The Southern French Alps and Ecrins National Park are well know amongst mountaineers and alpinists for their dramatic and sometimes quite techincal peaks.

The mountaineering elite have frequented the area since the beginning of the 19th century putting up routes to many of the seemingly inaccessible peaks! It was Coolidge, one of the great figures of the so-called silver age of alpinism, for example, who first climbed the Sirac in 1879 and reported that it was one of the most impressive mountains he had experienced.

The most famous peaks are La Meije, La Barre Des Ecrins and Ailefroide but there are lots of lesser known peaks and summits that are well worth a visit especially if you like the idea of having them all to yourself!

There are in short loads of possibilities and enough variety to please everyone from budding mountaineer to seasoned mountain goats! Just in Valgaudemar there are several weeks worth of summits... Les Rouies, L'Olan, Sirac, Les Bans.... to name a few.

Have a look at our Les Rouies photo album on flickr.

There are usually several different routes to climb a mountain and they are all graded by difficulty ranging from 'Facile' to 'Extrement Difficile'

F: Facile/easy. Rock scrambling or easy snow slopes; some glacier travel; often climbed ropeless except on glaciers.

PD: Peu Difficile/a little difficult. Some technical climbing and complicated glaciers.

AD: Assez Difficile/fairly hard. Steep climbing or long snow/ice slopes above 50%; for experienced alpine climbers only.

D: Difficile/difficult. Sustained hard rock and/or ice or snow; fairly serious stuff.

TD: Tres Difficile/very difficult. Long, serious, remote, and highly technical.

ED: Extremement Difficile/extremely difficult. The most serious climbs with the most continuous difficulties. Increasing levels of difficulty.

We can organise a mountaineering / alpinist course for you over a week to introduce the basic skills you will need to venture in to the mountains.

Similarly we can put together a week of mountaineering with a guide to take in some of the classic and / or not so classic peaks! Have a look at our Summits of the Southern Alps" trip.

Have a look at our current Mountaineering and Alpinism Trips for ideas or let us tailor make one for you.

Or if you fancy a particular mountain and want to include it as part of a walking or multi activity holiday, we can arrange that for you too.

All our guides are fully qualified high mountain guides from the area who know the Southern French Alps like their back garden. They will make your safety their priority as well as making sure you make the most of the area and enjoy the mountains.

It isn't recommended to go into the high mountains without a high mountain guide unless you are a competent alpinist or mountaineer.

If you would like any more information on mountaineering or alpinism in the Southern French Alps or would like to enquire about a mountaineering holiday, please fill in our request form and we'll get back to you.

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Rock Climbing

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Rock climbing in the Alps is an activity you won't forget in a hurry. Warm rock, beautiful scenery, sunshine and a magnificent choice of routes - you could spend years here and never be bored!

Unlike the UK where climbers need to put in their own protection, climbing in the Alps is all bolted (except for high mountain routes)!

Just in the Chamsaur and Valgaudemar valleys there are a range of great climbing spots.

For experienced climbers there is the world renowned Céüse which some people regard as the best crag in Europe. If you like the feeling of freedom at higher altitudes and a spectacular view you won't be disappointed at Ceuse. Situated at 1600 metres with almost 350 routes graded from 5a to 9a+, the majority between 6b to 7c, you will meet climbers from all over the world.

For less experienced climbers, groups and beginners there are the crags at Pont du Fossé with almost 100 routes graded 3a to 7b. A veritable sun trap with easy access and great views, another perfect climbing spot to learn the ropes!

Slightly more challenging is the Rouanne Haute, a small but very beautiful crag in a pre-Alp scenery.

We can organise a days climbing for you as part of a multi activity week, a climbing course, a day with a high mountain guide doing a large multi pitch or high mountain route or a full mountaineering and climbing expedition on the Olan or Pic de Burre, Barre des Ecrins ...

All our guides are fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides or brevet d'etat (like a british degree) climbing instructors.

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Skiing

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The Southern French Alps offer fantastic skiing and snowboarding - a great snow record, quieter and cheaper than the Northern Alps, amazing views across the Ecrins National park and a sunny climate.

We are based on the southern edge of the Ecrins National Park in the Champsaur valley. There are six ski resorts in Champsaur, and what's really special about this valley is the preservation of the five small ski villages on the way up to the main ski resort of Orciers 1850, a large high altitude resort.

All the ski villages are very friendly, quiet and peaceful with a strong emphasis on relaxed, family friendly skiing. Each has their own special character.... south facing sunny Chaillol, the pretty alpine village ofAncelle, the tiny but cute Laye, the steep larch forested St Leger les Melezes. and for skiers with a passion for powder there is one tiny but tough little ski village called Serre Eyraud which has some great lift accessible off piste routes to be done!

And for a large ski resort with high altitude skiing straight from your door, a fantastic sports and leisure centre with a glass wall so you can swim with a view, a great range of shops, restaurants and bars and a choice of other non-skiing activities, there is Orcieres!

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the location map of all the resorts.

The season stretches from December until April. The best time to come if you want to avoid the French school holidays are the months of January and March, but even in peak season you will be surprised at how quiet it is compared to some of the better known resorts.

Most of the ski villages and the main resort of Orcieres have child care facilities for little ones from 3 months - 6 years old, and a special ski kindergarten for 3 - 6 year olds.

Half or full day lessons with an English speaking instructor are also available for all ages, either as part of a group or as an individual at all the villages and Orcieres.

Ski mountaineering (involves more mountaineering skills than ski touring) and ski touring are la creme de la creme for anyone who loves skiing, mountains and snow! They are the perfect way to explore the French Alps in Winter and Spring

Get away from the crowds and experience the majestic ambiance of the high mountains.... look out over dramatic views of the Barre des Ecrins, La Meije, Le Bans and lesser known but equally impressive Southern Alpine Peaks as you skin up the mountains.... be the first to make tracks in virgin snow.... breathe in the clean crisp air and ingest the peace and tranquility of the mountains.

The Southern French Alps are absolutely perfect for ski mountaineering or ski touring as there are a huge variety of routes, from technical, long distance high mountain traverses including the Tour des Ecrins to short day trips on easy slopes.

So whether you are an experienced ski mountaineer looking for your next adventure or a beginner ski tourer who would like a little taster of what its all about, we can organise a trip for you to make the most of the area.

Have a look at our ski mountaineering in the Southern Alps photo collection.
What is it?

The main difference between ski touring and ski mountaineering is the technical difficulty of the tour but they are both essentially traveling through the mountains in winter and spring using specially adapted ski touring skis (more info on equipment can be found at the bottom of the page).

Sometimes ice axe and crampons are needed depending on the difficulty of the mountain. The more mountaineering skills; ice axe and crampons, glacier traverses etc, needed on a particular tour, the more likely it is to fall into the ski mountaineering, rather than ski touring category.
Who can do it?

You need to be able to ski to intermediate level but you don't need to be an expert skier to enjoy ski touring or ski mountaineering.

All that is needed is a reasonable fitness level and a passion for the mountains! For ski mountaineering, some alpinism and mountaineering skills are also necessary.
Safety

Both ski touring and ski mountaineering are dangerous sports as you are off piste in the mountains and there is a very real risk of avalanche and other mountain hazards. People die every year in the mountains and not always due to negligence. The mountains have claimed the lives of numerous experienced mountaineers through no fault of their own.

Whilst going with a guide does not make you exempt from mountain hazards, the benefit of years of experience, advanced safety training, expert technical ability and local experience is a serious plus!

We choose our guides with great care. All our guides are fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides and experienced mountaineers with local knowledge and a high regard for safety. They will think nothing of turning back if your safety is at risk, even if that means you lose a day in the mountains.
I want to go ski touring or ski mountaineering!

If you like the idea of exploring the mountains of the Southern French Alps on skis, please have a look at our ski touring and ski mountaineering holiday offers or contact us for a tailor made quote. We will use our local knowledge to put together a perfect itinerary for you.

For aspiring ski tourers or ski mountaineers we can organise anything from a taster day out to a full week's course covering technique and mountain safety with several day trips and the possibility of an overnight trip into the Southern Alps.

For experienced ski tourers or ski mountaineers we can organise anything from an advanced skiing course to improve your technique and mountain knowledge to a week of short and / or long distance routes.
Equipment

We can organise all specialist safety and ski mountaineering equipment for you.

Ski mountaineering skis are generally lighter than down hill skis with ski touring bindings (allowing you to have a free or fixed heel) and detachable skins which stick to the bottom of the ski for skiing up hill. You also have 'couteaux' or ski crampons which attach to your skis for icy conditions.

As you are off piste it is vital that you take a spade and probe and avalanche tranceiver with you whenever you go ski touring.

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Via Ferrata

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If you like a challenge and like being in unusual situations, you'll love via ferratas!

Via Ferratas were invented by the Italian army as a means of getting their troops through the inaccessible mountain ranges of the Alps. They have since become a sport in their own right and there are now via ferrata courses dotted all over the Alps.

They consist of metal ladders and thick wires positioned strategically over rock faces and some have wire bridges crossing over the narrow gorges above rivers.

You wear a harness, with two cow's tails (ropes with caribiners attached) attached and a helmet, clip into the wires or ladders and then climb, following the course of ladders, wires and bridges. You make sure you are always attached to the wires by one of the cow's tails at all times so can never fall very far.

They allow you to climb on exposed rock faces normally inaccessible to mere mortals such as ourselves!

Via ferratas are generally designed for adults and as such smaller children can find it difficult to reach the wires and ladders. However, there are via ferratas suitable for children from 7 years of age.

They are graded by technical difficulty and the length of time taken to complete the course.

We can organise you a harness and helmet, show you where to go and you can go off on your own (not recommended for non-climbers or beginners) or we can organise a guided trip out.

Why not try via ferrata as part of an activity holiday?

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Wild Swimming

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With a plethora of lakes and rivers, we have some fantastic wild swimming opportunities, with some of them even being in the accommodation gardens!

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Bivouac/Camping

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Take camping to a whole new level with Undiscovered Alps! From sleeping in a tent on a campsite, to a hammock in the trees, to a teepee up the mountain to an igloo - we have them all!

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Canyoning

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Canyoning is an exhilarating white water ride down gorges and waterfalls. You run or slide down wet slabs of rock, jump off blind escarpments, scramble up rocks, splash around in pools and abseil down drops.

Check out our canyoning album of Sale Sharks Professional Rugby Players who came for a pre-season team building weekend with Undiscovered Alps.

There are a range of canyons in the area - all with different characters - some with a series of big waterfalls to others with fun slides and jumps.

Our guides are very experienced, fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides who know the canyons in the region extremely well. They will choose the best canyon for you and the conditions when you are here. They will look after you in the canyon, make sure you are safe and ensure you have lots of fun!

What better way to wipe the cobwebs away than by plunging off waterfalls into cold water!

We can organise a day or half a days canyoning for you as part of a multi activity holiday or just as a single activity.

Or for keen canyoners why not spend the week trying out different ones.

The best time of year to go canyoning is in the spring and summer, when there is a good amount of water from the melting snow and ice and the sun is hot! However, too much water can be dangerous in some canyons. Our guides will take into account local conditions when choosing the best canyon to take you down.

To do most canyons, you must be over 10. For some more difficult canyons the age limit is 14 and for the longer technical canyons it is 16.

There is a canyon suitable for younger children in the region that is possible as a day trip combined with a children's via ferrata.

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Gorge Walking

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similar to Canyoning, but hopefully spending more time on your feet as you enjoy sliding and climbing down a river bed, with huge plunge pools and natural rock slides!

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Hill Walking

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Walkers of all ages and levels of experience will be pleasantly rewarded in the Champsaur and Valgaudemar valleys. There really is something for everyone.

We have suggested a few of the classic walks (click on the boxes at the top of the page), but there are hundreds more to choose from.

There's plenty of wildlife to look out for, including butterflies, marmots, chamois, ibex, wild boar, golden eagles and other birds of prey. There are even wolves and lynx roaming the area. Have a look at our wolf tracking trip. The flora is also beautiful, and we have over 60 species of orchid here.

For families we can recommend some great walks with easy paths, gentle gradients, spectacular views and plenty of good places for rests and picnics. Have a look at Saut du Laire above.

For more experienced walkers we can suggest some brilliant long distance walks, classic alpine summits and more technical routes with a bit of scrambling and ridge walking or if you fancy going higher into the mountains some mountaineering and alpinism. Have a look at our Summits of the Southern Alps trip.

There are countless day walks taking in ridges, cols, lakes and peaks from either valley. Or, if you want to go for a longer journey why not utilise the network of long distance footpaths - GR routes (Grande Randonne), that criss cross the high mountains of the Ecrin National park and go off for a few days staying in mountain refuges along the way. The classic long distance route in the area is the Tour du Vieux Chaillol. Have a look at our holiday offer to do this walk with a guide or self-guided.

And if you really fancy a challenge, why not try an alpine summit. In the area there are some classic mountains like the Barre des Ecrins or the Olan and also some lesser known and quieter peaks like Les Rouies or le Sirac. Have a look at our alpinism and mountaineering pages for more information or come on one of our alpinism and mountaineering trips

Unusually for the Alps, there has never been any industry in these valleys, and as a result the area has become famous for its pure air and the diversity of flora and fauna that thrive on the mountainsides and in the valleys. Every season has its own special charm.

Conditions are great for walking all year round, however from November until May winter walking equipment may be needed - see our Snowshoeing section.

We can organise a week of guided walks or simply advise you on good routes you can do by yourself. Have a look at our Holiday Offers page for some of our guided group walks. Or you can include self guided or guided walking as part of a multi activity holiday

All the guides we use are fully qualified and experienced walkers who are local to the valleys. We choose them because they love what they do and are passionate about the Champsaur and Valgaudemar valleys. Our guides won't just lead the way and keep you safe, they will show you where the wildlife is hiding out, tell you what plants are what, and explain the geology and history of the features you will see on your walks. They'll use their local knowledge and experience and a little ingenuity to find the most spectacular routes that will fit into your holiday.

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Ice/Winter Climbing

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The Champsaur and Valgaudemar valleys have the greatest variety and some of the best ice climbing in the Southern French Alps. Ice climbers and mountaineers come from all over the world to climb the famous routes, such as Le Voile de La Mairiee.

But you don't need to be an expert to climb here as there are waterfalls, ridges and gullies for all levels.

It is the unique topography of the region that gives rise to the variety and diversity of waterfalls - from long steep technical routes to gentle beginner gullies.

So whether you are a total beginner wanting your first taste of ice climbing or a seasoned climber wanting a winter challenge to add to your list of adventures, there is something for you here.

And what better place to climb... world class routes with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps.

We can organise an ice climbing experience as part of a winter multi activity holiday or if you would like to spend a week discovering the waterfalls of the region and perfecting your technique, we can organise a full week of ice climbing. Have a look at our ice climbing courses. Ice climbing is possible from about age 8 depending on the child.

We use fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides for ice climbing with a maximum of 6 beginners per guide or less for more technical climbing (2 climbers per guide for multi pitch routes).

We choose our guides for their professionalism, local knowledge and friendliness. They will look after your safety whilst making sure you have fun.

Ice climbing routes, like climbing and mountaineering are graded according to difficulty. Each route is given a grade for technical difficulty as well as a general overall 'umph' grade.

See Packages for prices

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Mountain Biking

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Mountain biking has really taken off in the valley in the last few years, and new routes are being created all the time. It's just outside the national park which means, if it's bikeable, you can ride it - the only limit is yourself!

The conditions are good for mountain biking between May and November. And, if you fancy trying something new it's possible to go snow mountain biking in the winter!

In the Alps, all mountain bike routes are graded like ski runs; green, blue, red and black routes, with black being the most difficult and green the easiest.

At the moment there are over 700 km of marked mountain bike routes of all levels in the Champsaur valley and still 100ds of km of unmarked routes to be discovered. Have a look at the mountain biking routes map .

Whether you are a hardcore mountain biker looking for an adrenaline rush-down a fast, technical single-track route, or a family wanting a gentle ride in some beautiful countryside, you will be pleasantly rewarded.

There is a bike park with tricks and jumps, as well as a range of managed downhill tracks with lift access in Orcieres.

There are plenty of day rides if you want to base yourself in one place.

Or if you fancy a journey, why not try the 'Tour de Champsaur', a 130km tour of the valley over 4 - 5 days. We can arrange for your luggage to be taken to your accommodation each night so you can just go out with your day sack.

We organise self-guided including a great route taking you from the Alps to Provence and guided mountain biking holidays for all ages and abilities, or you can try mountain biking as part of a multi-activity holiday.

Our guides know the area like the backs of their hands, and some of them have even written the guide books, so they'll know which routes to take you on.

If you fancy biking alone, you can use our route cards and maps to guide you around the valley.

If you would like to come mountain biking here, or would like to bike as part of a multi activity holiday please fill out a request form telling us what you are interested in, and we'll get back to you.

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Paragliding

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With its 300 days of sunshine a year and the unique microclimate created by the Ecrins mountains, the Southern French Alps is a perfect location for paragliding and, as it's still a relatively well kept secret, you can fly without hundreds of other paragliders getting in your way.

There are several paragliding courses on offer in the valley running from May to October.

You can also go paragliding in the winter with a ski landing. Or for the more adventurous winter sports seekers, you can try speedriding, which is like kite surfing on skis or a snowboard!

We can arrange any of the courses or taster sessions for you as part of a summer activity holiday, a winter activity holiday or you can enjoy a week of pure paragliding or speedriding.

All courses are run by fully qualified and experienced instructors operating within European regulations and guidelines and all equipment is provided.

Tasters:
Fly tandem with an instructor and discover what it's like to be airborne above one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world! Possible in summer and winter.

Beginners:
If you want to feel what it's like to fly and be in control of your own shute, there is a five day course to show you how. The first couple of days are spent familiarising yourself with the equipment and practicing take off and landing procedures. Then on the last three days, if the instructors are happy with your progress and the weather, you can fly on your own. You will be in radio contact with the instructors at all times. Summer only.

Intermediate:
If you are a more experienced flyer there is a five day course aimed at helping you to acquire more flying techniques so you can really make the most out of your air time. You will be in radio contact with the instructors at all times. Summer only.

Speedriding:
If you are a competent skier in all types of snow and want to experience something new and exciting then speed riding will definitely appeal! It is possible to go for a 1/2 or full day taster session or go for a full 3 day course! Winter only.

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Scrambling

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Come scrambling with Undiscovered Alps and combine it in a summer multi activity holiday or even a mountaineering trip to a summit over 3000m!

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Snowboarding

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The Southern French Alps offer fantastic skiing and snowboarding - a great snow record, quieter and cheaper than the Northern Alps, amazing views across the Ecrins National park and a sunny climate.

We are based on the southern edge of the Ecrins National Park in the Champsaur valley. There are six ski resorts in Champsaur, and what's really special about this valley is the preservation of the five small ski villages on the way up to the main ski resort of Orciers 1850, a large high altitude resort.

All the ski villages are very friendly, quiet and peaceful with a strong emphasis on relaxed, family friendly skiing. Each has their own special character.... south facing sunny Chaillol, the pretty alpine village ofAncelle, the tiny but cute Laye, the steep larch forested St Leger les Melezes. and for skiers with a passion for powder there is one tiny but tough little ski village called Serre Eyraud which has some great lift accessible off piste routes to be done!

And for a large ski resort with high altitude skiing straight from your door, a fantastic sports and leisure centre with a glass wall so you can swim with a view, a great range of shops, restaurants and bars and a choice of other non-skiing activities, there is Orcieres!

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the location map of all the resorts.

The season stretches from December until April. The best time to come if you want to avoid the French school holidays are the months of January and March, but even in peak season you will be surprised at how quiet it is compared to some of the better known resorts.

Most of the ski villages and the main resort of Orcieres have child care facilities for little ones from 3 months - 6 years old, and a special ski kindergarten for 3 - 6 year olds.

Half or full day lessons with an English speaking instructor are also available for all ages, either as part of a group or as an individual at all the villages and Orcieres.

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White Water Rafting

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There are several different ways to experience the roller coaster ride of big and bouncy alpine white water!

Rafting - this is usually in a group of 6 - 8 people and the idea is that you work together as a team to steer the raft down the rapids!

The reality is that you bounce around sometimes where you want to go and sometimes not!! It's not unusual to go for a little swim alongside the raft - which is actually very pleasant on a hot day!

Hydrospeed - this is like a type of white water surf board that you lie on and 'surf' down the river. It's excellent fun and if you want to get close to the water - this is the way to do it!

Hot Dogs - Inflatable solo or two man canoes - Hot dog is the technical name for an inflatable canoe. You steer with your hips and canoe paddles and hope for the best. You are closer to the water than in a raft so the bumps feel bigger!

Kayaking To kayak down white water you need to have had some experience in a kayak as it is quite a skilled activity. We do courses that will take you from beginner to a white water paddler over a week. Please have a look at our kayaking page for more information on kayaking.

There are other forms of crafts for white water descents being invented and tried out all the time and we like to keep our hand in everything that's new so don't be surprised if a new unusual looking inflatable thing appears in front of you on the river!

All our guides for the white water activities are fully qualified to French and European standards and have excellent local knowledge of the rivers as well.

We are not just dependent on one river like some areas - we have a choice so if the levels are too low or too high in one we'll find you a more suitable river for your descent!

The best time for big white water is from May until the end of July when the winter snow is still melting. After that it is the glacial melt that keeps them going so the levels are generally lower, but you can still find good white water until the end of September (after that it gets a bit cold!)

We can organise you a white water holiday or can include some white water fun as part of a multi activity holiday. Contact us for a quote.

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Zip Wire

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Travel at up to 140km per hour, head first through the Southern French Alps! An extreme adrenalin buzz - not for the faint hearted!

This is the longest and fastest giant tyrolean zip wire in Europe and is the only one open in the winter season!

It is 1.9km and stretches from the top of a mountain down to a high altitude lake - don't worry you don't finish in the lake!

To get to the start you need to take two cable car ski lifts up to the top of the mountain. Then you are strapped into a specially adapted harness and off you go.

The views are incredible on your way down but you probably won't have much time to take them in - the whole descent only takes 1 minute and 10 seconds!! But don't worry, you are rewarded for your courage with spectacular alpine scenery when you arrive!

The tyrolean is a major engineering success and it has taken nearly 10 years of design, trials and safety tests to bring it to fruition. It has been thoroughly tested and is regularly inspected by the french authorities for safety and security.

We can arrange your giant tyrolean zip wire experience as part of you winter multi activity, summer multi activity, skiing or snowboarding or any other holiday in the Alps.

Minimum age is 10.

Minimum weight is 40kg and maximum weight is 120kg

Visit the Alps and experience a true adrenalin buzz that will last for a week!

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Note: Undiscovered Alps may provide additional outdoor activities that are not detailed here. Please contact Undiscovered Alps for further information.

Packages/Courses at Undiscovered Alps

Ice Climbing in the French Alps - Long weekend

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Escape from the office and do something different for your fresh air and adventure fix! Breathe in the fresh alpine air and explore some of the most dramatic ice in the Alps on this intensive ice climbing course.

This is a progressive course where you will learn the basics of ice safety and security and essential ice climbing techniques. After an intensive introduction on your first day, you will split into pairs of matching ability and explore more challenging multi pitch routes. We have a wealth of ice falls, gullies and ice cliffs to choose from including several world famous sites so there is something for everyone!

And as with the rest of our holidays we choose our locations slightly off the beaten track so you can appreciate the calm and tranquillity of ice climbing in the mountains without having to share the experience with hundreds of others!

You don't need to have had any previous ice climbing experience to come on this trip but will need a reasonable level of fitness.
Itinerary / Highlights
DAY 1 - Arrival

We'll come and collect you from Gap train station and take you up to your accommodation where you'll meet the rest of the group. Once everyone has arrived we'll have a welcome drink, go through the week together and answer any questions you might have.

Then you can sit down to a lovely meal prepared by Stephanie before a good night's sleep to prepare your self for tomorrow!

DAY 2 - Introduction to Ice Climbing

Your guide will come and collect you in the morning and take you to the Tourengs a fantastic ice climbing venue perfect for beginners.

A short approach from the road, beautiful views over the river and valley and good quality ice! The Tourengs is a large 200m cliff with several waterfalls and consists of several short pitches with the option of longer (up to 200m) multi pitch routes of a variety of grades.

It's ideal to get started on as you can focus on technique, rope work and safety without being too physically committed!

You will start off on top ropes and learn the basics of placing your ice axes and crampons and optimising your energy and strength (very important for ice climbing)! You will also learn about different types of ice and its behaviour, rope technique and safety.

For lunch we will make a group decision each day as to whether we take a picnic or eat in a restaurant which will also depend on weather conditions and venue. As we are near to civilisation today and it is the first day, we usually go for the restaurant option!

In the afternoon we will continue and your guide will focus on your individual strengths and weaknesses giving you exercises to do to perfect your technique.

DAY 3 - Multi Pitch Technique

After yesterday, you should have a good grasp of basic rope technique and have mastered to a greater or lesser degree the art of optimising your energy and strength!!

Today, you will take that a stage further and learn how to use the rope for longer routes. You will look at different belaying systems, placing ice screws and other gear and removing them!

You will now be in pairs with one guide per pair and should be ready to go for a longer and more technical climb so you can practice multi pitch climbing and there will be the opportunity for you to have a go at leading if you want to!

There are several possibilities as to where to go but Prapic 1513m is a favourite. It is a beautiful little alpine village at the end of the valley. It is still inhabited all year round by four families and has preserved it's authentic alpine charm and architecture.

It is also home to some fantastic ice climbing such as the 300m Pisse Bernard.

You will be out for the full day so will need to take picnic, snacks and a hot flask!

There is a very good chance you will have the ice falls at Prapic to yourselves for the day and can really experience the tranquility and beauty of ice climbing in the Southern Alps! Look out for chamois and golden eagles.

DAY 4 - The Ice Falls of Valgaudemar

Parallel to the Champsaur valley is the spectacular Valgaudemar valley, a 22km long valley with 3000m+ peaks towering above you on either side! The choice of ice falls here is incredible!

A wild and natural valley with a real high mountain ambiance - a perfect location to end your week!

Your guide will help you choose which one would be a good one for you taking into consideration your progress and the local conditions so you can end on a grand finale!

There is the famous Le Voile de la Mariée which is situated just above the Gioberney refuge with a magnificent mountain backdrop. There is about an hour to walk in and 200m of beautiful ascent at grade IV/3+.

Or from the hameau du Bourg there is the Torrent du Bourg. To do this you have about an hour to walk in following a gorge before you attack the ice. It is 100m high and grade III/4 with an abseil descent.

Or from Le Casset is the 'Souvenirs inattendus" - unforgettable memories! In good condition this is a classic! Another hour to walk in with 200m of ice climbing at grade III/4. Abseil descent.

Again you'll be out for the full day and away from shops and civilisation so a good stash of supplies needed!

DAY 5: Goodbye

This is the sad day when we say goodbye :(
Other Details

Accommodation Details

This is a great little Auberge newly refurbished in unique style of modern funky decor whilst still retaining it's rustic mountain heritage!

You will be staying half board in a great Aubegre situated in the beautiful Champoleon valley just at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park, one of the most dramatic mountain ranges of the French Alps.

The accommodation has a very good restaurant (where vegetarians don't have to feel like lepers!), bar, internet access, library and some of the most beautiful views in the area!

The rooms come in various sizes from small double or twin rooms to large family rooms - all with en-suite bathrooms with either shower or bath.

It is run by a small team of passionate foodies and outdoories headed by Stephanie and Laurent and their two children, who will ensure you are well looked after.

PRICE INCLUDES -
- 4 nights half board accommodation in a fantastic Auberge in the heart of the mountains on the edge of the Ecrins National Park.

- 3 full days guided ice climbing with fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides. Ratio max 1:6 for 1st day and 1:2 for 2nd and 3rd days.

- All technical and safety equipment. You will need your own personal clothing and mountaineering / ice climbing boots. It is possible to hire boots if you don't have them.

- Return transfers from Gap train station.

- Transport to and from the ice climbing.

Length: 5 days

Price: From €999

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Kayak the Alps - Intermediate

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From grade II to grade V all within an hour of each other....! The Southern French Alps area has a huge amount of variety in a relatively small space!

Take in the dramatic mountain scenery, and beautiful sunshine as you paddle the lovely clear water of alpine rivers!

The week will start with an intensive white water skills session on our grade II /III slalom course on the Drac which will give you and the instructor the opportunity to gauge your level and plan the rest of the week accordingly.

After the first session your instructor will plan an itinerary to make the most of the local rivers, show you the best play spots and push you to your potential. A great way to explore the rivers of the Southern Alps in all their glory and have lots of fun!

Paddle the Drac Noir (grade IV), the Drac Blanc (grade III+), the Drac (grade II - IV), the Severaisse (grade III - IV), the Bonne (grade IV - VI), the Souloise (grade IV), all draining the snow and glacier melt from the largest mountains in the Southern Alps in the Ecrins National Park. Or travel a little further for the Durance (II - IV), the Ubaye (grade III - IV) or the Guil (grade III - IV).

And you won't be fighting with a million other paddlers or rafters for the best play spots because unlike our neighbour, the Briancon / Embrun area, we are a very well kept secret.

Whatever your level, we will put together a programme of rivers and rapids to suit you. You will have a team of qualified instructors to look after you on the river, show you the best play spots and generally make sure you have a good time!

All our kayak instructors are fully qualified to French and European standards and are all well traveled and experienced kayakers.

The guide to client ratio on grade III+ rivers is 1:4

Suitable for intermediate and advanced paddlers. All paddlers must be competent on grade II rivers and be able to ferryglide and break in and out of eddys. Children must be aged 12 or over and all participants must be able to swim.
Itinerary / Highlights
This is just an example kayaking itinerary aimed at a competent grade II/III paddler but can easily be adapted for lower or higher levels. We can chop it and change it around to suit you and can adapt for a mixed ability group as well! The Southern French Alps has a surprising amount of variety for its size!

It is designed to be progressive so that by the end of the week you are taking on some of the more technical white water rapids!!!

The instructors will also adapt it as the week goes on to take into account your abilities and desires and the river levels. As you know the same river can seem like two very different animals with different amounts of water flowing down it!!

All rivers of grade III+ will have an instructor ratio of 1:4.

DAY 1
ARRIVE and settle in to accommodation

We'll come and meet you to go through the week, have a little welcome drink, and answer any questions you have.

DAY 2: SKILLS ON THE SLALOM COURSE

Usually we will meet for kayaking in the afternoon when the levels are higher but it depends on the conditions at the time.

We have a fantastic grade II - III slalom course on the river Drac which is perfect for practicing and remembering your strokes!

Today will be an intensive session on the slalom course playing in the stoppers, surfing, doing tricks and generally practicing your kayaking skills.

It will help your instructor get an idea of your level so that he can plan the rest of the week accordingly.

A great start to the week to sweep away the kayaking cobwebs!

DAY 3: KAYAK THE DRAC

The river Drac is the main river of the Champsaur valley and is grade II - III but can get up to grade IV in high water. The rivers Drac Noir and Drac Blanc are it's two main tributaries (these are kayakable in their own right but are more technical grade III - V maybe later in the week!).

In normal conditions the descent is a long, easy roller coaster paddle with straight forward rapids and the occasional interesting wave or stopper to play on.

A wide valley with beautiful mountain scenery all around, it is a great introduction to alpine paddling.

DAY 4: KAYAK THE SEVERAISSE

The Severaisse drains many of the glaciers of the Ecrins National park and although a relatively small river it keeps it's levels through to August.

As Peter Knowles says in his guide to the Southern Alps - the Severaisse is 'pure dead brill' and 'very friendly'. It's a fast and continous alpine river with nothing major to worry about and it makes an excellent introduction to alpine paddling.

There are a couple of options for get ins and get outs on the Severaisse depending on whether you want to stick to grade III or go for some grade IV rapids.

After your trip down the Drac yesterday you and the instructors will have a good idea of your ability so you can make an informed choice based on the river levels!

Whatever you choose, you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps. The river runs down the valley of Valgaudemar which is 24km long with 3000m+ mountain giants towering above you on both sides.

DAY 5: REST / CHOICE DAY

Your first day off! This is to give you a rest and also to give you an opportunity to make the most of your time here and try a different activity.

We have a range of possibilities available including canyoning, rock climbing, via ferrata, mountain biking, walking ... and more.

So you can either relax and sunbathe and let your body recover before the last two days or try something completely different.

It is really up to you and we can discuss the options available when you are here. Please note that any activities organised for this day are not included in the price and would be payable as an extra, either at the time of booking if you already know what you would like to do or locally when you are here.

DAY 6: KAYAK THE DURANCE

The Durance is one of France's classic white water rivers. It carries the highest volume of any river in France, with wonderful water which descends in wave after wave directly from the highest peaks in the Hautes-Alpes. It winds its way through an open valley with spectacular views along its course - a big volume white water dream for kayakers of all levels.

It is also home to one of the most famous play spots in Europe, the Rabioux!

There are several choices of sections ranging from grade II to grade V. Your instructor will decide which section will be the best for you to make sure you make the most of this fabulous river!

DAY 7: UBAYE, BONNE, GUIL....?

By now you and the guides will have a very good idea of your abilities and they will be able to advise you on which river to choose to end your week on a big high!

Alternatives locally include the Drac Blanc (grade III+) or the Drac Noir (grade IV), the Soulloise - grade IV - V. Or you can travel a bit further afield to the Ubaye which is grade II - IV, the Guil grade III - V, The Bonne grade III to V - you are spoilt for choice!!!

DAY 8: GOODBYE
This is the sad day that we say goodbye.....

We have a range of accommodation to choose from with this holiday including converted farm houses, bed and breakfasts (most offer evening meal as well), family run hotels (we don't use any big chain hotels), camping or for groups of four or more booking together self catering apartments.

All our accommodation is vetted by us and chosen for its warmth and friendliness, quality of accommodation, value for money and location.

Included in this fantastic price is the following - *

- 7 nights accommodation in a choice of hotel, bed and breakfast or camping accommodation

- 5 river descents on a variety of rivers (see example itinerary) with fully qualified and experienced kayaking guides

- All equipment (kayaks, paddles, wetsuits, helmets, buoyancy aids etc) included. You can bring your own kayak and personal equipment if you prefer.

- Transport to and from the kayaking

Use the enquiry button below if you are interested in this trip - or if you are interested in any holiday with us including a tailor made trip for a group!

Length: 8 days

Price: From €599

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Summer Multi Activity Holiday

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Multi-activity holiday in the French Alps
A flexible summer activity holiday in the Undiscovered Alps!

The mountains really are an adventurer's playground in summer and there are so many different ways to explore them.... rafting, kayaking, via ferrata, canyoning, tree climbing, caving, mountain biking, walking, paragliding.... or just relax and soak up the southern Alps sunshine.

As there's so much to choose from we have created a flexible holiday so you can pick the activities you fancy and let us tailor make your ideal activity week. With this holiday, you have nine activity points that you can exchange for activities from our alpine activity list (please have a look at the activity list below). All you have to do is choose your activities and decide which accommodation you would like to stay in. Choose from a variety of accommodation including camping, luxury chalet with private hot tub, farmhouse bed and breakfast or hotel to suit your budget.

We'll put together an itinerary with your chosen activities and suggestions for making the most of the area so you don't waste time driving or visiting the tourist office looking for a suitable walk or bike ride when you are here. There are some beautiful lakes (including a great life-guarded swimming lake), villages, museums, nature walks...

When you arrive at your accommodation we will meet you to explain the week and give you maps and directions for getting to the activities. They are all easy to find so don't worry about getting lost! We will also suggest walks and other things to do near the meeting points if you would like to have a full day out and we are in the area throughout your stay for any questions, advice or information.

Some of the activities do have age limits, varying from age 6 - 12 so please ask us for more information when you make your enquiry. We can also arrange child care and babysitting for you as a part of your holiday.

If you would like to stay in a different accommodation, add another activity or do something that isn't in the list, please let us know when you make your enquiry and we will put together a personalised quote for you.

Activities

We have a diverse range of activities to choose from and of course they are not all the same price!! So to make it easy for you we have divided the activities into four categories, Green, Blue, Red and Black.

Each colour is worth a number of points:

Green Activities are worth 1 point

Blue Activities are worth 2 points

Red Activities are worth 3 points

Black Activities are worth 4 points

With this holiday you have nine points, so you can choose a mixture of activities from each colour to make up your nine points. Please note that a couple of the activities fall between categories and require an extra 1/2 a point. You can choose 2 of the same activity - eg 2 days mountain bike hire.

Green Activities - 1 point
- Kayaking: A half a day (3hrs) hire of sit on top kayaks for a beautiful self guided trip across either the Lac du Sautet - a deep blue lake with a stunning mountain backdrop, or the Lac du Serre Poncon, the largest artificial lake in western Europe - there aren't many better places to paddle. Age limit 5 (must be able to swim)

- Horse Riding: A 2 hour ride through the alpine forests and meadows - a great way to experience the Alps! Rides suitable for beginners through to experienced riders. Please note this activity uses an extra 1/2 point. Min age 8.

- High Ropes Adventure: Zip down a tyrolean zip wire, climb up a spider net, negotiate the wobbly log staircase, tip toe across the tightrope wire.... High Ropes Adventure Courses are designed to challenge you vertically, horizontally and personally! A variety of courses for all abilities - lasting approx 1/2 a day. Min age 5.

- Mountain Bike Hire: A full day self-guided mountain biking off road on cross country tracks. There is a huge network of waymarked and graded mountain bike routes from green to black routes so there is something for everyone. We can even arrange for child seats and towbars for younger riders. Bikes, helmets and repair kit delivered to your accommodation. Maps and route guidance included.

Blue Activities - 2 points
- Horse Riding: A 1/2 day ride through the alpine forests and meadows - a great way to experience the Alps! Rides suitable for intermediate through to experienced riders. Min age 10.

- White Water Descent: Hurtle down the rapids of the Severaisse or the Drac in either a raft or one or two person inflatable canoe... but beware the smaller the boat the bigger the rapids will feel! 1/2 a day activity. Min age 6.

• Via Ferrata: If you like a vertical challenge and unusual situations, you'll love via ferratas! Climb across exposed rock faces and through narrow gorges, traverse precarious rope bridges... safe in the knowledge that you are securely attached! 1/2 a day activity. Min age 10. (we have other via ferratas for younger children within an hour's drive so please ask)

- Rock Climbing: A morning or afternoon at a sunny crag, climbing, bouldering and generally enjoying the warm rock, beautiful views and challenging yourself! Suitable for all levels. Min age 5.

- Tree climbing: Explore that cool, peaceful, leafy canopy of a tree, swing from a branch, or just sit up high and yell madly at your mates down below! 1/2 a day activity. It is also possible to upgrade this activity for an extra point and spend the night in the trees sleeping in special hammocks. Min age 4.

- Mountain biking: 1/2 a day guided mountain biking off road on cross country tracks adapted to the groups' level and ability. Min age 8.

- Giant Tyrolean Zip Wire: Travel at speeds of up to 140km per hour head first through the Alps. An extreme adrenalin buzz on the largest tyrolean zip wire in Europe! Min age 10.

- Caving: 1/2 a day taster session exploring the underground labyrinth of the limestone Devoluy Massif. Please note this activity uses an extra 1/2 point. Min age 8.

- Night in a Refuge: Self guided walk (route info and map included) in and out of refuge with evening meal and breakfast provided. - there is a whole network of mountain refuges scattered over the Alps to provide food and refuge to walkers and mountaineers as they journey in the mountains away from the luxuries of civilisation! You don't need to walk for hours to get to one and experience the 'mountain refuge' ambiance! No min age (cots are available in the refuge and the closest one is a 11/2 hour walk).

Red Activities - 3 points
- Advanced Via Ferrata Situated in la Motte du Caire (about an hours drive from the Champsaur valley) is one of the biggest via ferratas in the Southern French Alps. This via ferrata has several routes that you can choose from but expect a good half day out and prepare yourself for a challenge!! To get back down there are 3 tyroleans including one of 220 meters long over a big drop! Perfect for adrenalin seekers! Min age 12.

- Downhill Mountain Bike Hire and Lift Pass: Collect your bike and pass in the resort of Orcieres and then head out up on the lift for a session of serious downhill biking – there are green, blue and red routes to choose from and a bike park so you can perfect your skills! You can also use the lifts to get up to the top of the mountain and follow one of the tracks down to the valley floor (1800m of descent). Bike is a semi-rigid freeride downhill bike suitable for beginners to intermediate riders. It is possible to upgrade to a full suspension enduro bike for experienced riders for an extra point.

- Horse Riding: A full day ride through the alpine forests and meadows - a great way to experience the Alps! Rides suitable for intermediate through to experienced riders. Min age 12.

- Canyoning: Run or slide down wet slabs of rock, jump off blind escarpments, scramble up rocks, splash around in pools and abseil down drops. We have several canyons to choose from but the most local and popular is La Rouannette. We do the full canyon which takes a good 3 - 4 hours. Min age 11. Please note there is a canyon suitable for younger children about an hour away from the Champsaur valley.

- Hydrospeed: This is like a type of white water surf board that you lie on and 'surf' down the river. It's excellent fun and if you want to get close to the water - this is the way to do it! Please note it is an hour's drive from the Champsaur valley to this activity. Min age 13.

- Caving: A 4 - 5 hour caving trip exploring the underground labyrinth of the limestone Devoluy Massif. There are several routes available - Devoluy isn't generally a 'pretty' caving system but a sporty one so expect lots of SRT! This is a physical 4 -5 hours and only suitable for people with a reasonable level of fitness. Min age 12.

Black Activities - 4 points
- Paragliding: A really exhilarating experience in the air. You will be strapped to your instructor and he will fly and land the paraglider for you - allowing you to get over the fact that you have just run off the side of a mountain! The exposure of being so high up and flying with the birds, the magnificent views and slight roller coaster sensations all together make this a very memorable experience! It takes about an hour / hour and a half and you’ll be in the air for 10 – 15 minutes. It is possible to upgrade for a 'sensation' flight or a have a longer fly but it is more expensive and for a first time this length is perfect. Min age 8.

- Caving: A full day caving exploring the underground labyrinth of the limestone Devoluy Massif. There are several routes available - Devoluy isn't generally a 'pretty' caving system but a sporty one so expect lots of SRT! This is a physical day out and only suitable for people with some caving experience and a good level of fitness. Min age 14.

Off the Scale!!
We can also arrange private UIAGM high mountain guides for full day multi pitch climbing routes (guide ratio 1:2) or a mountaineering trip to do one of the nearby alpine summits. If you are interested in a more climbing and mountaineering oriented holiday, please have a look at our mountain adventure holidays or our Introductory Mountaineering Trip or tell us your ideas when you make your enquiry and we can put together some suggestions for you..

Length: 8 days

Price: From €310

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Wolf Tracking Adventure

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Learn the art of tracking and discover an insight into the life of the wolf and even more elusive lynx with an expert tracker.

Wolves and Lynx were officially hunted out of France at the beginning of the 20th century.

However, there has always been a population in Italy and eastern Europe. Gradually over the years, the wolves and lynx have migrated back into the French Alps.

The Southern Alps, with its wild and unspoilt mountains rich in chamois, mouflon, wild boar, deer and other prey is a perfect habitat.

It is estimated that there is at least one large pack and several solitary wolves living here and the presence of the lynx is confirmed by by rare sightings and animal attacks.

Your high mountain guide and tracker has been following the colonisation of the wolves and lynx in the area for 20 years. With a wealth of local knowledge and access to a network of other local wolf and lynx enthusiasts, you won't get a much better insight into these rare animals.

He will take you on an authentic tracking adventure following tracks and signs of wolf activity in the area. The focus will be on tracking wolves but if there are signs of the lynx in the area.....

The area is very wild and still relatively untouched, so you will need to be prepared for walking through woods and undergrowth and on steep ground.
Itinerary / Highlights
In order to minimise the level of disruption to wildlife and provide a high quality trip, we limit the groups to a maximum of four people.

DAY 1:
Arrive in Gap. We'll collect you from the station and take you to your bed and breakfast where you will eat dinner with your wolf expert and guide for the trip.

DAY 2:
First day tracking. A full day out with your high mountain guide and expert tracker following the signs and prints of wolves. The actual destination will depend on where the wolves are thought to be at the time, but walking is likely to be ‘off piste' in a wild all terrain environment. You will get a really good insight into the behaviour of the wolves and mountain wildlife; chamois, wild boar, mouflon and deer, as they eat sleep, mate and carry out their lives under the threat of their biggest predators, the wolf and lynx.

DAY 3:
Depending on results from yesterday and other local knowledge, your guide will take you further into the mountains in search of the wolves and you'll stay overnight in a winter refuge & a real tracking adventure. The wolves are often active at dawn and dusk so sleeping out in the mountains is a really good opportunity to get a decent glimpse. You will need to share the weight of food and drink in your rucksacks for the night.

DAY 4: Walk back from the refuge, again following signs of the wolves, ultimately heading back in the direction of the bed and breakfast or vehicle shuttle (if you have gone in a different direction following the wolves) where you will enjoy a hearty evening meal and a luxury bed for the night!

At the end of your trip, you'll be able to tell the difference between a dog print and wolf print, a chamois, deer or wild boar print, and whether it was running or walking and in what direction … you'll discover the hiding places and dens of the animals and see plenty of wildlife as well as hopefully catching a glimpse of the wolves in action.

DAY 5: Return home. We'll give you a lift back to Gap train station in time for your train!

Included in the holiday are the following -

- bed and breakfast - sharing 2 to a room.

- 1 night in a winter refuge - food for evening meal and breakfast provided but you will all cook together.

- picnic lunches

- 3 days with 1 overnight with expert tracker and wildlife expert and high mountain guide.

- snowshoes and poles if needed

- transport during the trip

- transfers to and from Gap train station

Get in touch using the enquire button below and remember that for larger groups, there is the possibility to arrange a tailor made trip!

Length: 5 days

Price: From €621

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Introductory Mountaineering - Summits of the Southern French Alps

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A mountaineering challenge for novices taking in three alpine summits with a combined altitude of nearly 10,000m

FIXED DATES: 26 June - 3 July 2011 - ideal for individuals looking to join a group (minimum group size of 6).

OTHER DATES: Any week between May and September for groups of two or more booking together.

Mountaineering and Alpinism week taking in three of the big alpine peaks of the Southern French Alps!

If you are a passionate walker or climber and love the mountains, you will find it difficult to resist the lure of the big Alpine peaks and will love this week!

Get away from the crowds and soak up the charm and ambiance of the Southern French Alps.

Please have a look at the itinerary below for more detail.

This is a progressive week of mountaineering and alpinism taking in three spectacular peaks of the Southern French Alps including L'Obiou 2789m (Grade: facile / easy) a dramatic walking summit with some exposed and technical sections, Les Rouies 3589m (Grade: facile / easy) a beautiful glacier crossing and short scramble and either the Sirac 3444m (Grade: peu difficile / bit more difficult) a glacier crossing and climbing / scrambling (grade 4a /b) or L'Olan 3564m (Grade: peu difficile / bit more difficult) one of the famous Ecrins and Oisans peaks with a glacier crossing with climbing / scrambling (grade 4a / b).

Two of the summits involve glacier crossings and scrambling / climbing in high mountain conditions and all the peaks have exposed sections!

Over the course of the week, you will learn essential rope and safety techniques for moving together and climbing in the high mountains and across glaciers. You will learn how to walk and climb in crampons and use ice axes and how to climb in big boots! You will also learn how to pace yourself at altitude.

The area we use for our introductory mountaineering trip is away from the main tourist areas so you won't be sharing your experiences with 100ds of other mountaineers and should get a real taste of the magic of mountaineering in the Alps!

The area is rich in flora and fauna with golden eagles, chamois, ibex, marmots and there are even wolves in the vicinity. For flower fans, look out for the orange lily, the 60 plus species of orchids including the lady's slipper and countless others.

No previous experience of mountaineering or alpinism is necessary but a good level of walking fitness and some scrambling or climbing experience is required.

A real taste of classic mountaineering and alpinism off the beaten track!
Itinerary / Highlights
Get away from the crowds and explore the peaks of the Southern French Alps!

This is a progressive itinerary taking in three stunning summits: L'Obiou 2789m, a dramatic walking summit with some exposed and technical sections, Les Rouies 3589m, a beautiful glacier crossing and short scramble, and either the Sirac 3444m, a glacier crossing and climbing / scrambling or L'Olan 3564m, a glacier crossing with climbing / scrambling.

Where possible we will stick to this itinerary as it is progressive and is a great introduction to real mountaineering off the tourist track!

However, it is the mountains and although we do have the best sun record in the Alps, we may have to alter the itinerary during the week to take account of the weather and conditions.

We also like to remain flexible and are open to suggestions and ideas from you if you have a particular skill you want to learn or a summit you want to do.

DAY 1 - ARRIVE

Settle in to your accommodation, have a drink and wander around the area.

In both the Val Des Sources and Le Casset Refuge, you are surrounded by 3000m plus peaks, including the Olan, Les Rouies and the Sirac, some of which you will be climbing this week!

Once everyone has arrived, we'll come and say hello, welcome you to the area and go through the itinerary. You will also meet your guide and get your equipment for the week.

Then you can settle down to a hearty evening meal before a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow!

DAY 2 - ASCENT OF OBIOU

The Obiou is the highest mountain of the Devoluy massif and is a spectacular and dramatic trekking peak.

This is a limestone mountain and where there is limestone there are usually caves!! Here is no exception and it is worth bringing your headtorch as there is an ice cave just under the col de L'Obiou. Inside the cave you can go right underground where you will find a wall of transparent ice - it is magnificent!

On the route, there are several exposed and 'airy' sections where you will need to take care not to slip and the guide may decide to rope up for security.

Starting altitude: 1562m

Summit altitude: 2789m

Ascent: 1227m

Average walking time: 6 - 7 hours (4 - 5 hours up and 2 hours down)

At the start of the walk you get your first taste of the 'airy' ambiance of this mountain with a little exposed section.

After that there are two choices of itineraries, which the guide will explain to you on the day and you can decide which way you want to go. Either you can follow the GR route which contours around to the right or you can go straight up through the rocks.

The two options meet up at about 2000m where the GR route continues to wind it's way through an apparent wall of stone up to the col de l'Obiou. Care is needed throughout this section as a slip could be very dangerous. It is necessary to scramble in certain places but otherwise the path follows a 'staircase' up. The views from this section are incredible - it has to be said!

At the col you follow the shoulder up to the top. This section is very exposed and captures the real high mountain 'airy' character of this mountain.

Enjoy spectacular views over the Ecrins National Park, the Champsaur, Valgaudemar and Devoluy valleys and see if you can spot your next objectives for the week!

DAY 3 - WALK UP TO PIGEONNIER REFUGE

This is a beautiful and easy walk up to the refuge where you will spend the night before attacking the summit of Les Rouies tomorrow.

You can walk up directly in about 2 1/2 hours or you can take in the Lac du Lauzon on your way which is a pretty alpine lake with a stunning mountain backdrop.

Once you get to the refuge you can either relax and enjoy the ambiance or go for a little scramble up in the rocks above the refuge. Your guide will be with you and will be up for a bit of rope work practice, wildlife spotting or anything else you fancy doing.

The area is a great spot for ibex and other wild mountain animals so it is worth making the most of the local knowledge of your guide and getting some good wildlife shots to take home with you!!

George, the guardian who runs the refuge is a real character and will definitely make you welcome. It is one of the best refuges in the area! Just remember you have to get up at 4 in the morning before you get too carried away having a good time though!

DAY 4 - ASCENT OF LES ROUIES

Les Rouies is one of the easiest of the big summits of the dramatic Ecrins massif but is not to be underestimated!

It is a long day with a traverse over a glacier and a steep little scramble at the end. If you have never walked on a glacier before this is an excellent introduction.

The rock is metamorphic gneiss rock and has a very different look, feel and vegetation to L'Obiou.

It is situated on the end of a chain of peaks forming the cirque which bars the end of the Valgaudemar valley (the cirque from north to south: Les Rouies, Mont Gioberney, Les Bans, Pic Jocelme, Pic de Bonvoisin, Pointe Verdonne and le Sirac).

Have a look at our Les Rouies photo album on flickr.

Starting altitude: 2423m

Summit altitude: 3589m

Ascent: 1166m

Average walking time: 8 - 9 hours (5 - 6 hours up and 3 - 4 hours down)

George will wake you up at 4 am where you will experience the classic french mountain refuge breakfast (bread - usually a bit stale, jam or honey and hot chocolate!). It is advisable to bring some snacks with you as it's a long time from now until your lunch at 13:00!

It is at this point as you are preparing your sacks in the dark, that you will have a 'what on earth am I doing here?' moment! Don't worry it's worth it!

After a rocky traverse in the dark you will arrive at the edge of the glacier - usually just as the sun comes up so you can see what you are doing to put your crampons on!

After an explanation of how to use the equipment you will begin the climb up through the couloir to the top of the glacier, which is pretty spectacular in itself.

Once you arrive on top you will be rewarded with amazing views and will start to feel the heat of the sun - truly beautiful! Here you will rope up to traverse the glacier which takes you up to the summit.

The last climb is pretty steep and mixed snow and rock but is is worth the effort to get to the top, where you will really feel on top of the world.

From the summit you get an excellent view of the interior of the Ecrins massif including the Barre des Ecrins and La Meije and of the summit of L'Olan just next door - possibly your next challenge!

Then you come down the way you came up - although it goes much quicker and the going down technique and views are very different from the going up ones so you don't feel like you are retracing your steps.

At the refuge George will greet you with a well deserved hot meal before you make your way down to the car park and back to your accommodation.

DAY 5 - REST / CHOICE DAY

This is your opportunity to relax and refuel after your exertions in the mountains, before tackling your biggest challenge of L'Olan or Sirac tomorrow.

If you are based at Les Val des Sources you have the swimming pool, table tennis and some beautiful relaxing walks straight from your door.

From le Casset, you have a short walk to get into the village of La Chapelle, where there are a couple of shops and bars to mooch around and of course you have the river of the Severaisse if you fancy a cool dip - just be careful to find a spot without fast flowing rapids!

If you want to do something more sportif, just let us know. We can arrange rafting or high ropes adventure - both situated in the village of La Chapelle. Or we can arrange another day with your guide to try a multi pitch climbing route, a via ferrata or a day practicing rope work and alpinsm skills somewhere pretty!

Please note any organised activity including the day with the guide arranged for this day are not included in the price.

DAY 6 - WALK UP TO REFUGE

There are two choices of summits for today and tomorrow; the Olan or Sirac, equally spectacular and dramatic.

There are then several routes up either with varying grades of climbing. However, we are looking at the classic routes for this trip. They are both 'peu difficile' in grade which means there is some technical climbing and more complicated glaciers so slightly more difficult than Les Rouies. It is really a personal choice and the guide will be able to give you more information about the routes and current conditions to help you decide which peak to do.

THE SIRAC

The walk in to the Sirac is up to the refuge Vallonpierre at 2271m from the Gioberney at 1642m. This is a newly refurbished club alpine francais refuge situated in a little hanging valley with a small lake.
There are two main ways to walk in - one direct route which is about 3 - 4 hours walking and quite steep or a traverse around under the glacier with the possibility to stop off for a drink at La Chabourneo refuge. This is slightly longer and you cut off half of the steep direct ascent so is slightly easier walking.

Both routes take you up a real classic Alpine valley with the summit of La Sirac dramatically outlined above you.

Again your guide will be with you so if you want to do some rope work or scrambling on your way up or at the refuge, that's no problem. The Vallonpierre refuge is a good place for chamois so again make the most of your guide's local knowledge and find out where they are hiding!

L'OLAN

The walk into L'Olan is straight up from la Chapelle at 1101m to the Refuge de l'Olan at 2344m.

It is a long, steep and wild walk in through alpine meadows, rocky outcrops and slabs. The path is easy to follow and there are lots of wildlife spotting opportunities along the way.

The refuge itself is a real classic alpine refuge from the 60s - basic but clean and situated on a pretty alpine plateau surrounded by slabs and rock.

As the refuge is slightly off the beaten track and only really used by climbers and mountaineers, rather than families and ramblers, it has a real mountaineer alpinist atmosphere! As it should really with one of the prestigious summits of the Southern French Alps just behind it!

With nothing else in the way of civilisation anywhere near you and the old style refuge ambiance it is easy to imagine what it was like for the pioneers of Alpinism as they explored these mountains.

Your guide will be with you so if you fancy a bit of local scrambling, climbing or wild life spotting to while away the afternoon at the refuge, go for it!

DAY 7 - ASCENT OF L'OLAN or SIRAC

SIRAC

The Sirac is the other end of the cirque of mountains heading up the valley of Valgaudemar from Les Rouies.

It is a magnificent mountain to look at with it's corrugated ridge and is equally magnificent to climb.

Starting altitude: 2271m

Summit altitude: 3440m

Ascent: 1169m

Average walking time: 7 - 8 hours (5 - 6 hours up and 3 - 4 hours down)

Alpinism Grade:PD - peu difficile

Another early morning alpine start from the refuge Vallonpierre.

As you are stumbling over the rocks in the dark on your way towards the start of the route and wondering how on earth the guide knows which way to go, you may again experience that 'what on earth am I doing here' feeling but this time you'll know it is going to be worth it. The start of another adventure in the mountains!

The traverse over rough terrain finally ends at a wall of solid rock! This is where your climb really starts. The first part is a scramble up a pretty cliff - a pleasure to climb. The cliff then gives way to a section of large blocks separated by short scrambles and climbs.

Then you arrive at a reasonably steep but small glacier which you cross to gain access to the next part of the route. Sometimes the bergschrund between the glacier and the main face can be quite difficult to negotiate but your guide will give you good advice and protect you.

The route is varied and interesting - a mix between scrambling and climbing (grade 4a - 4b) over short sections. It is made particularly interesting in big boots but the rock is good and there are big foot and hand holds.

The last section is a dramatic, very exposed and airy ridge which you follow up to the summit. This gives you absolutely splendid views but you are better off concentrating on your scrambling before getting too carried away in that high mountain bliss. Wait til you get to the summit before you really relax and drink in the ambiance in relative safety!!

Again the way down is the same but feels totally different coming down than it felt going up!

A hot lunch will be waiting for you at the Vallonpierre before you finish your journey back down to the valley.

L'OLAN

The Olan is one of the most prestigious mountains of the Oisans and the Ecrins thanks to its famous north face, over 1200m of pure cliff face with some of the most difficult climbing routes in the Alps

We are taking the south facing which is slightly less intimidating but still 6 - 700 metres of climbing and scrambling over excellent gneiss (metamorphic) rock in a real high mountain atmosphere with a very exposed ridge scramble / climb at the end - a joy to climb.

Starting altitude: 2344m

Summit altitude: 3564m

Ascent: 1220m

Average walking time: 8 - 9 hours (5 - 6 hours up and 3 - 4 hours down)

Alpinism Grade: PD - peu difficile

Another alpine start at 4 in the morning and traverse in the dark over mixed terrain until you reach the glacier.

The glacier is not too technical at the start, however becomes quite steep at the end and there are some crevasses so care is needed.

You leave the glacier by a 40 m long climbing pitch (grade 3) which brings you up to a nice little terrace which you use to traverse the face. This brings you to the bottom of a couloir which you climb up to get to the east ridge.

This is the scariest part of the route - it is an extremely exposed ridge which peaks and troughs along to the summit - some scrambling and some climbing (grade 3). The final part gives you some respite from the exposure with a chimney to work your way up and then on to a nice slab to the north summit! After this significant mental and technical challenge, the breathtaking views are even more magical!

There are a few choices for coming back down - you can either come back down the way you came or take the col between the north summit and the central summit which leads you down a snowy couloir (about 150m). When this becomes steep you go east along a little path until you rejoin the voie normale that you came up on.

DAY 8 - BACK TO CIVILISATION

This is the sad day where we say goodbye. Hopefully you will leave with some fantastic memories of your adventures in the Southern French Alps and will be back to try some more challenges in the future.
Other Details

Accommodation Details

For the two big summits, you will be staying in Club Alpine Francais mountain refuges.

For the rest of the trip you can either have a bit of luxury and stay in the The Hotel Les Val Des Sources, a great little hotel situated in the heart of the Valgaudemar valley with swimming pool, steam room and food to die for!

OR

if you want to keep the costs down a bit you can stay in the Gioberney - a fantastic hotel / refuge situated in the heart of the valley of Valgaudemar. The sleeping arrangements are in dormitories or for a small supplement twin or double rooms are available. In the building there is an excellent restaurant and a bar. The refuge has a great sun terrace with spectacular views and a friendly fun atmosphere. The food is excellent.

All your accommodation is half board and you have picnic or hot lunches for the days you are climbing.

PRICE INCLUDES -

- 4 nights half board accommodation in a fantastic Auberge in the heart of the mountains on the edge of the Ecrins National Park.

- 3 full days guided ice climbing with fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides. Ratio max 1:6 for 1st day and 1:2 for 2nd and 3rd days.

- All technical and safety equipment. You will need your own personal clothing and mountaineering / ice climbing boots. It is possible to hire boots if you don't have them.

- Return transfers from Gap train station.

- Transport to and from the ice climbing.

Length: 8 days

Price: From €1184

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Skiing and Snowboarding in the Southern French Alps

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High altitude skiing straight from your door with unrivalled scenery on the edge of the Ecrins National Park.

Orcieres 1850 is a great resort for beginners right through to advanced skiers and snowboarders who want to ski or surf 'off the beaten track'.

- Large high altitude ski resort
- 300 days of sunshine per year
- Range of skiing and snowboarding for all abilities with over 100km of varied pistes.
- Brand new snowpark for beginners through to professionals
- Genuinely friendly atmosphere
- Range of high quality ski in ski out accommodation.
- Range of telemix, chairlifts and button lifts with short lift queues and no pushing and shoving!
- Excellent children's facilities including ski kindergarten, creche and a very good ESF and ESI ski school.
- Palais de Sport - swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, ice skating....
- Range of other activities to try including ice diving, sleeping in an igloo and husky dog sledding, ice climbing, snowshoeing and much more.

We are not just a tour operator based in a remote office booking your holiday, we offer a personalised customer service in resort and are there to help you make the most of the area and generally take the hassle out of your holiday!

We'll come and meet you when you arrive in resort and welcome you to the area, give you your ski passes (no queuing at the ticket desk!), pre-book your skis, organise your lessons and any other activities you fancy trying and we are around throughout your week for advice on where the best pistes are, where to eat, shop and generally have fun in the resort and surrounding area!!

We appreciate the importance of quality ski instruction and have chosen to work with the ESI (Ecole du Ski International) ski school who are slightly more expensive then the other ski schools but offer a more personal and friendly service with smaller group sizes.

We can easily add creche or babysitting, more ski lessons or other activities like ice diving, snowshoeing, husky dog sledding, cross country skiing, ice climbing or even a night in an igloo if you want a break from skiing.

We have a range of accommodation possibilities in the resort from ski in ski out 4 star chalet style residences, some with an onsite restaurant, some with a pool and others with a sauna to hotels.

PRICE INCLUDES -
- 7 nights accommodation in a choice of self catering chalets and apartments and hotels.

- 6 days ski pass for Orcieres 1850

- 6 days leisure pass for access to the famous 'palais du sport swimming pool and ice skating.

- 6 days ski or snowboard and boot hire

- Either 6 mornings group ski lessons (max 6 per group and 8 for beginners) OR 3 private 1 hour lessons. with fully qualified ski instructors.

Length: 8 days

Price: From €485

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Tour de Vieux Chaillol

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Walk with a guide or go it alone, this is a classic alpine walk, staying in mountain refuges and gites taking in the four valleys visible from Champsaur's highest mountain, the Vieux Chaillol. Each of the valleys; Champoleon, Champsaur, Valgaudemar and Molines have their own unique characteristics; from the deep steep dramatic valley of Valgaudemar to the open rural landscape of Champsaur.

There are two pairs of golden eagles in the area, chamois, ibex and lots of marmots. The flora is also spectacular, with 60 different species of orchid, wild orange lilies, wild daffodils, gentians and thousands of other flowers I don't know the names of!

Most of the tour traverses along the valleys on the GR 50 and GR 54 long distance trekking paths, so the paths are easy and not too steep but the days are long so you will need a reasonable level of fitness to do it comfortably. You cross one high mountain pass of 2607 metres which takes you from the Valgaudemar valley into the Champoleon valley. This is done over two days staying in the refuge Vallonpierre at 1534 metres but you will climb approximately 1150m in one day.

The classic route is five days long, so for our guided version we have included one of the variations making it a weeks holiday. For the self guided option, it is up to you. Our price includes the classic tour but we can easily adapt it for you if you would like to do one of the variations or include a rest day!

If you would like more information on either the guided or self-guided trip, please contact us.
Itinerary / Highlights
This is the classic route for the self guided walk with a couple of the suggested variations if you want to extend it to make a week long holiday. Our guided route takes in Variation B, making it a full 8 day trip.

DAY 1
Arrive in the valley

DAY 2:
From: Gite D'Etape Les Paris in St Jaques -Altitude 980 m
To: Gite D'Etape Le Casset in La Chappelle - Altitude 1150
Ascent: 250 m
Descent: 100m
Hours walking: 6h30

This is a beautiful long walk through the valley of Valgaudemar with a short climb up to the Oulles du Diable & a spectacular water fall walk. From here you can take a short diversion up to the old deserted village of Navette. This was habited until just after the second world war and you can still see remnants of the old houses and the renovated church.

DAY 3:
From: Gite D'Etape Le Casset in La Chapelle - Altitude: 1150m
To: Refuge Vallonpierre in the mountains - Altitude 1534
Ascent: 1150m
Descent: 0m
Hours Walking: 7h30

This is a long uphill walk but through one of the most beautiful ‘classic alpine' valleys of the walk. The last section is quite steep and it is a welcome sight to see the sign saying refuge Vallonpierre 10mins when you get to the top! Take time to stop on your way up and look back over the views behind you.

DAY 4:
From: Refuge Vallonpierre in the mountains - Altitude: 1534m
To: Gite D'Etape Les Gondoins in Champoleon - Altitude: 1300m
Ascent: 554m
Descent: 1534
Hours Walking: 7h30

This is a wild and dramatic walk over the col and through the valley on the other side. Look out for chamois and other animals. There are two choices of route & a more direct but steeper and more technical path or a slightly longer but more gentle walk.

DAY 5:
From: Gite D'Etape Les Gondoins in Champoleon - Altitude 1300m
To: Gite D'Etape de Chaillol in Chaillol - Altitude 1425m
Ascent: 927m
Descent: 784 m
Hours Walking: 7h00

This is a pretty traverse through woods and alpine meadows with great views.

DAY 6:
From: Gite D'Etape de Chaillol in Chaillol - Altitude 1425m
To: Gite D'Etape les Paris in St Jaques - Altitude: 980m
Ascent: 927m
Descent: 890m
Hours Walking: 7h30

A dramatice traverse over alpine meadows and through mixed woods on the south facing side of the mountain so nice and sunny!

Variations:

VARIATION A:
DAY 3:
From:Gite D'Etape Le Casset in La Chapelle - Altitude: 1150m
To:Refuge Gioberney at the end of the valley - Altitude 1642m
Ascent: 507m
Descent 0m
Hours Walking 3h00

You could walk up to the Lac du Lauzon from the Gioberney - it's about 3 hours walk and is a spectacular Lake with great mountain views.

DAY 4:
From:Refuge Gioberney at the end of the valley - Altitude 1642m
To:Refuge Vallonpierre in the mountains - Altitude: 1534m
Via: Refuge Chabourneou
Ascent:679m
Descent:50m
Hours Walking 6h00

It's also possible to walk directly up to the Vallonpierre refuge in about 3 hours without taking in the Refuge Chabourneou.

VARIATION B:

This adds an extra day to the itinerary making the trip an 8 day / week long holiday

DAY 4:

From: Refuge Vallonpierre in the mountains - Altitude: 2273m
To: Refuge du Pre De La Chaumette & Altitude: 1800m
Ascent: 817m
Descent: 832m
Hours Walking: 4h30

This is a wild and dramatic walk over the col and through the valley on the other side. Look out for chamois and other animals.

DAY 5:
From: Refuge du Pre De La Chaumette & Altitude: 1800m
To: Refuge du Tourond in the mountains - Altitude 1712m
Ascent: 412m
Descent: 490m
Hours Walking: 5h30

A relatively easy and very pretty walk through the valley of Champoleon by the river. Lots of nice picnic stops and stream dipping opportunities! At the refuge there is a spectacular waterfall you can go and have a look at & about 20 mins from the refuge if you want to explore.

DAY 6:
From: Refuge du Tourond in the mountains - Altitude 1712m
To: Gite D'Etape de Chaillol in Chaillol - Altitude 1425m via the Col de Vanasque
Ascent: 775m
Descent: 1062m
Hours Walking: 6h00

A beautiful and remote walk over the col de vanesque with spectacular views over the Champoleon and Champsaur valleys and lots of wildlife.

There is the option of taking in the peak of the Vieux Chaillol 3163m on this day which would add another 4 hours onto the day and another 675m of ascent.

This is a big day with a lot of ascent but a very rewarding view at the top.

If you wander up to the Cabane des Parisien and a bit beyond you will see the remains of the canal du Malcros which was built by Napoleon's army to divert water from the Malcros glacier (no longer there) into the Champsaur valley. You will also see parts of the canal tunnel as you traverse over towards the Col de La Pisse on your way down.
Other Details

Accommodation Details

You will be staying in a range of mountain refuges and gites. You will be sleeping in classic alpine dormitory accommodation, although some of the refuges and gites do have a private double bedroom option for an additional supplement. Please ask about this when you book. Blankets or duvets are provided in all the gites or refuges, but you will need to bring a sheet or sleeping bag liner to sleep in for your own hygeine.

All the gites and refuges have hot water, shower and toilet facilities. You will be given a picnic lunch each day to take on your walk with you and breakfast and evening meals in the refuges and gites. You can also buy cold drinks, beers and snacks. Most dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice so please inform us at the time of booking.

PRICE INCLUDES -
- full board (breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal) in a range of mountain refuges and gites.

- choice of being guided or self guided

- baggage transfers between gites and refuges where possible

- walking maps and route guidance

Length: 8 days

Price: From €475

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Note: Undiscovered Alps may provide additional outdoor packages that are not detailed here. Please contact Undiscovered Alps for further information.

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Other Providers in and around Europe

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Low Mill Outdoor Centre Yorkshire Dales -> North Yorkshire

Adventure Activities in the heart of Wensleydale for schools and groups

Activities include Abseiling, Archery, Canoeing, Caving, Gorge Walking, High Ropes, Hill Walking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Orienteering, Raft Building, Rock Climbing and Zip Wire View All

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Activities from £12.50 per person

Min-age from 8 years (18 if unaccompanied)

Canoeing at Semerwater
Spice London London -> England

Activity, Adventure, Sports & Social Club for London & the South East

Activities include Clay Pigeon shooting, Gliding, Helicopter Flights, Hill Walking, Horse Riding, Ice/Winter Climbing, Kayaking, Land yachting, Llama Trekking, Quad Biking and Wing Walking View All

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Activities from £6 per person

Min-age from 18 years (18 if unaccompanied)

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Spice Thames Valley and Solent Oxfordshire -> Cotswolds

Adventure and Outdoor Activities in Oxfordshire, Cotswolds

Activities include Abseiling, Archery, Bungee Jumping, Coasteering, Dragon Boating, Gliding, Hang Gliding, Helicopter Flights, Horse Riding, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Off-Road Driving, Paragliding, Rock Climbing, Sailing, Skiing, Sky Diving and Water Skiing View All

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Min-age from 18 years (18 if unaccompanied)

Spice up your life
Brenscombe Outdoor Centre Dorset -> West Country

Adventure and Outdoor Activities in Dorset, West Country

Activities include Abseiling, Archery, Bushcraft, Canoeing, Clay Pigeon shooting, Dragon Boating, High Ropes, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Orienteering, Power Boating, Raft Building, Rock Climbing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing and Wind Surfing View All

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Min-age from 8 years (8 if unaccompanied)

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G2 Outdoor Aviemore and the Cairngorms -> Scottish Highlands & Islands

Outdoor Activities, Rafting, Canyoning and Skiing Aviemore, Scotland

Activities include Canyoning, Gorge Walking, Skiing, Snowboarding, White Water Rafting and Zip Wire View All

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Activities from £25 per person

Min-age from 4 years (5 if unaccompanied)

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