Iceclimbing in the Western Alps

January 15 2000, 


In these cold winter months it seems a good idea to have a look around on what the internet has to offer the (European) ice climber. We only found two sites that are an extension to each other.
The first one is the homepage of af French guide at l'Argentière-la-Bessée, Gerard Pailheiret, that contains not only information on the "Internationeaux de la Cascade de Glace" but also regularly updated information on the conditions of the ice-falls. The second one, "Iceclimbing in the Western Alps", is our Site of the Month...


From his own 16-year experience, the author provides an overview of the ice-falles in the Western Alps, or the area of Briançon. You get (practical) information on the French and Italian sites with where to climb, where to stay and how to get there.
Wohever, only some of the 21000 height-meters of ice-falls are looked at in detail: the classics and the most interesting. The information on the climbs is uttermost complete, even better than the printed topos that are discussed on the site. The Formes du Chaos, a classic only gets 6 lines in the printed topo, here it is discussed in three A4 pages. This can be an extreme exemple, but most ice-falls are discussed in at least one A4 page.

This includes also the pictures, that are another big part of Iceclimbing in the Western Alps. The site contains a huge amount of very nice pictures that make every ice climber run for his tools. To the fact that this is closely to an overflow, I'll discuss later on.

The contents of the site doesn't change a lot, but grows slowly. Every year a few climbs are added to the site.


At first the site seems rather simple, somwhat old fashioned. A lack of fancy buttons and animations should make the site fast-loading but here it is slowed down by the large pictures that are contained in each seperate page.
We do like pictures, but any surfer with a 28.8 Kb/s modem has to wait more than a minute for one page to load. The use of thumbnails or smaller pages could have prevented this.

My opinion

Thé reference for ice climbing in the Alps: content rules over lay-out!

You can find Iceclimbing in the Western Alps at



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