From the Refuge de Chabournéou to the Refuge de Vallonpierre
La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar

6. From the Refuge de Chabournéou to the Refuge de Vallonpierre

Lake and glacier
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This is the last mountain Stage on the trail route to run through the rocky and glacial environment.

The path crosses the Sirac mountain along the foot of its imposing northern face. From here, you can feel the cold, jagged world of the high mountain peaks and enjoy a beautiful view of the previous day's Stage.


Tommy Bulle


From the terrace of the Refuge de Chabournéou, head directly southward on the path that runs along the mountain side.  After a short distance, a signpost indicates the direction for the Refuge de Vallonpierre. This path leads directly to the refuge with no further forks. Initially, the path rises gently through an area of vegetation and crosses a few mountain streams running down from the permanent snow fields. Then, just below the eastern peak of the Sirac, the path runs across a rocky ledge. A few aids are present: three iron bars are placed to facilitate your ascent. Be sure to follow the twists and turns in the path to avoid ending up in the small gully below these iron bars. The path gently runs around the northern slope, in places running close to the ice, in other places rocks. There are a further two crossings that need to be negotiated with care. The first is close to a slab which has to be passed by keeping well to the left (indicated by a paint mark). Be alert: do not follow the animal trail on the right. Before reaching terra firma, the path runs across a ledge which, although wide, requires care. At the end of the slope, the path skirts around the mountain and starts to drop back down towards the pastures. From here, the path runs through a jumble of boulders, crosses moraine terrain and leads into a fabulous grass-covered plain. The refuge is here, with its small lake and the imposing western face of the Sirac.

  • Departure : Refuge de Chabournéou
  • Arrival : Refuge de Vallonpierre
  • Towns crossed : La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar

4 points of interest

  • Fauna


    The chamois is an emblematic animal of the Alps and is at home anywhere in the mountains be it in the forests or rocky areas. It has short curved black horns and is a close relative of the antelope. It has particularly well developed sense of smell and hearing. It is consequently difficult to approach. However, near to the Chabournéou mountain refuge, and on the route towards that of Vallonpierre, it will be quite easy to enjoy the antics of the young kids on the névés that are still present. Did you know? While a walker is capable of climbing 400 m in an hour, the chamois is capable of climbing up 1000 m in ten minutes!  This physical capacity is very useful for escaping danger.
  • Top

    The Sirac

    To the south of the Ecrins massif, the Sirac is the last high summit at an altitude of 3441 m. It stands at the end of the Séveraisse valley, proudly showing off it best side: its 1500-metre high north face. During this walk, you will regularly raise you amazed eyes as if to salute this Lord and its crown. You will walk at its feet whilst being overlooked by its hanging glaciers. Simply magic!
  • Flora

    Alpine grey willow

    At the subalpine level, above the highest limit of the forests, only bushes such as the alpine grey willow can be found. It is possible to find it on the north slopes of the Sirac, on the route between Chabournéou and Vallonpierre. It's milky green colour can be spotted from afar. If you look closer, you will notice its main characteristic, which is a silky hair that is on both sides of the leaves. One reasons for this peculiarity might be to store as much moisture as possible to avoid desiccation. Despite its abundance here, it should not be forgotten that it is not such a common species!
  • Hut

    The Vallonpierre refuge

    A small lake, pretty meadows and the benevolent Sirac... This magical setting would lead to the construction of a refuge at an altitude of 2270 m in 1942. However, it was a victim of its own success and in 2000 the decision was made to build a second, bigger one. It can accommodate 37 instead of 22. This new building was the first modern mountain refuge to be built using stones on site rather than imported materials. It copies the simplicity and the crow-stepped gable from the "small refuge" which has been kept as lodgings for a warden's helper.


Altimetric profile


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

Information desks

Valgaudemar Park house

Ancien Asile Saint-Paul, 05800 La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar 92 55 25 19

Information, documentation and a reception area with permanent and temporary exhibitions. La Maison du Parc is labeled "Tourism and Disability". Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Find out more


Parc national des Ecrins

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