La Ruinette: A mountain made for moving quickly
⇑ Med / PD
Θ Out & Back
Ironically, La Ruinette caught our attention while doing something much bigger, and we couldn't wait to come back. We had arrived to the Chanrion Hut during our Glacier Haute Route run in the fall of 2017, and sat outside chatting. A woman we sat next to at dinner told us she was there to do La Ruinette, and she pointed up to a peak we hadn't really even noticed.
"How big is it?" I was astonished at it's elevation when she described it. "3875 meters".
While not exactly a looker, La Ruinette immediately became an obvious objective for The Way Up. We put it on the 2018 to do list.
The alarm pierced our cramped sleeping space at 3 am. Kim, Janine and myself had stuffed ourselves into our VW Caddy for a brief sleep before getting going from the Lac de Mauvoisin parking lot. With the stove blasting a pot of water, we dutifully gnawed on bread and Ovomaltine, waiting for the much needed coffee.
"At 3 am, I need coffee just to make coffee." I mumbled, fumbling around with my pre-packed vest and gear.
30 minutes later, with headlamps lighting the way, we were outbound. Starting at 1800 meters, we knew we had some work to do to get to the 3875 summit. But La Ruinette is the perfect Way Up, not requiring much more than running shoes. In addition to a puffy, a wind jacket, and a sack of calories, only a pair of Kahtoola MicroSpikes were along for the ride.
The run in is just that, a run. The trail is either steep up, or runnable traverse, and so we passed the first kilometers quickly before reaching the base of a broken rocky ridge. 3115M is where we slowed way down for some much stiffer terrain. Once on top of the ridge, which is a mix of steep trail and scrambling, we reached the Glacier de la Ruinette at about 3500M. There, happy to leave the dark side of the mountain below, we were finally greeted by the first warmth of sun.
While it's possible to continue along the rock ridge, the glacier is a much more direct and easier option. With MicroSpikes stretched over our shoes, we quickly reached the base of the final ridge, at about 3700 meters, where we once again started up rock. But this time the scramble was steeper and required some actual climbing in exposed terrain. We found that by staying along the top of the ridge, the line was direct, and very fun. But, a few abseil points reminded us that conditions make all the difference. For us, conditions were dry, sunny, and perfect. We reached the summit ready for a second breakfast.
Overall La Ruinette makes for a great Way Up. It's much more than running, with its crevasse free glacier, easy climbing, and big views from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. It does require comfort in exposed, loose-ish rocky terrain. Also, while it is a ridge, some route finding skills are required to find the best line through rubble.
There aren't so many peaks in the Alps that let you get to almost 4000 meters in running shoes and a vest, so when you find them, and conditions are good, go!
While you're in the region, be sure to also run the Lac de Louvie tour.
Start: 45.997841, 7.345345
Do not underestimate this route. Yes, it can be done in running shoes. The trick is to know when it can be done in running shoes. If you don't know, don't do it.
Much of the rock is done in morning shadow where it's cold and ice may surprise you. Pay attention and time your arrival based on conditions.
While not steep, the glacier can be rock hard in the morning. Be prepared with crampons or MicroSpikes.
At 4 am, with headlamps on full power, we run on half power.
With the sun up, we find ourselves having already gained nearly 1000 meters.
Below point 3115, at the base of the first rock ridge, the ground is a mix of scree and trail.
On the Glacier de la Ruinette
Kim on the final rock ridge, grade II
Janine and Kim with summit stoke
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