A must do before you turn fifty!

It’s not that you couldn’t do this after the age of 50 – quite the contrary, but if you do your first before you are 50 it means you’ve got enough time to do more before you turn 60!

And believe me, once you’ve done one, you’ll be back for more!

I’m talking about a mountaineering summit! Okay, so I know it isn’t for everyone, but if you like walking, the outdoors and a challenge then this is definitely for you!


You could go for the classic famous summits like Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro or even Everest, but if you are really doing it for you and not just for the kudos, then I would stay away from the honey Pot Mountains.

There are thousands of mountains all over the world and just because they aren’t the highest, the most difficult, or the most famous, does not mean they aren’t the most wonderful, most beautiful and most exhilarating of climbs.

Climbing a mountain is a physical and spiritual experience and it is all the more special when you have the mountain to yourself or almost to yourself!

The Ecrins National Park in the Southern French Alps is the largest national park in France and home to some of the Alps’ most stunning mountains. Some are famous, like the Barre des Ecrins and La Meije but we’re going to talk about a couple of the lesser known summits for a good all round experience!

Both suggestions are accessible from the Valgaudemar valley and the walk-ins to the refuges are relatively easy and very pretty!

The refuges themselves are CAF (Club Alpine Francais) refuges that have been recently renovated with great facilities including toilets and showers!

They are small and friendly with welcoming staff who will make your stay feel special.

As well as chamois, golden eagles and of course marmots, there is even a resident ibex who patrols the cliffs behind one of the refuges for wildlife lovers.

Les Rouies 3589m (Grade: F – Facile)
This is a perfect first alpine summit for walkers with little or no climbing experience.

Your climb starts with an early alpine start and a rocky and quite exciting walk in the dark to reach the start of the snow fields. Here you will rope up, put your crampons on, and make your way up through a couloir of snow as the sun starts to rise.

As you reach the glacier, the sun will be fully up and you will be rewarded with a sparkling and dramatic high mountain view across the glacier.

After traversing the glacier there is a short easy scramble to the summit where you can see all across the Ecrins. A spectacular view and magical moment of achievement!

Le Sirac 3440m (Grade: PD – Peu Difficile)
This is a fantastic first summit for walkers with some climbing or scrambling experience.

It is a little more technical than Les Rouies with a steeper glacier to negotiate and a scramble to grade 4 (VDiff) rock climb to an exposed and dramatic ridge to the summit.

If you would like to add a mountaineering summit to your tick list, have a look at this mountaineering week by Undiscovered Alps or contact sally@undiscoveredalps.com for advice on good summits to do and help in organizing and booking your trip!