Grande Casse

La Grande Casse, Val-Cenis, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Savoy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Kontinentalna Francuska, Francuska

The Grande Casse, standing at an impressive elevation of 3,855 meters (12,648 feet), is the highest peak in the Vanoise Massif of the Graian Alps, located in the Savoie department of France. It’s nestled in the Vanoise National Park, close to Pralognan-la-Vanoise and approximately 25 km southeast of Moûtiers. The mountain is renowned for its formidable 600-meter high north face, while its other sides present a gentler terrain, primarily composed of fragmented rocks.

A notable feature of Grande Casse is the high ridge that forms a connection to the neighboring peak, Grande Motte, delineating the boundary between the Tarentaise Valley to the north and the Maurienne Valley to the south. This mountain, despite its daunting height, offers relatively accessible routes to its summit, particularly from the Les Grands Couloirs glacier on its southwestern flank. The north face, known for its steep incline, is a sought-after challenge for extreme skiing enthusiasts.

The first successful ascent to the peak was accomplished on 8 August 1860 by William Mathews, alongside guides Michel Croz and E. Favre, navigating the south-western face. Another significant ascent, the north face, was conquered by Italians Aldo Bonacossa and L. Binaghi on 6 August 1933.

For climbers and skiers undertaking the ascent, the Refuge Félix Faure, situated at the Col de la Vanoise at an altitude of 2,516 meters, serves as a popular starting point. The routes to the summit vary in difficulty and include the normal route “Les Grands couloirs” (PD+, 400 m at around 40°), the challenging Petite face nord (AD, 600 m at 45-50°), the Couloir Messimy (AD, 45-50°), and the formidable North face, “Couloir des italiens” (D, 800 m at 55-60°).