This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (January 2013)
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The Barre des Écrins overlooks the divide between the valleys of the rivers Durance and Isère. This divide passes 250 metres west of the summit, along the ridge that leads to the summit of the neighbouring Dôme des Écrins (4,015 m). The south face of the Barre is rocky, while its north face is glaciated, being the source of the Glacier Blanc.
The mountain was first climbed on 25 June 1864 by A. W. Moore, Horace Walker and Edward Whymper with the guides Michel Croz, Christian Almer the elder, and Christian Almer the younger. It is traditionally scaled from the Pré de Madame Carle, in the valley of Ailefroide. The normal route climbs the entire length of the Glacier Blanc. This is a much-used route, because it is the usual way to the Dôme des Écrins, one of the most easily climbed mountains over 4,000 metres in the Alps. It starts from the Refuge des Écrins and climbs the north face almost up to the Lory saddle (3,974 m), where the routes to the Dôme and the Barre divide. The ascent of the Barre continues by a rocky arête all the way to the summit. Other more challenging routes to the summit exist, such as the South Face rated AD (Fairly Difficult). The quality of the rock on the mountain is from poor to average and especially on the South Face of the mountain the risk of stones fallings is significant.