Culminating at 3,300m above sea level in the heart of the Grandes Rousses massif, the Pic Blanc offers, on clear days, an as far as the eye can see panorama on an ocean of summits!
The panoramic view has been awarded 3 stars by the Michelin guide
“Worth the trip” the guide comments:
“… From the main viewing platform, the Pic Blanc offers an amazing view: Pic Bayle, the Grande Casse de Pralognan, Grande Motte de Tignes, Grand Paradis in Italy, the glaciers of La Vanoise, Dent Parrachée, the peaks of La Maurienne, in addition to the Meije, the Barre des Écrins and the Mont-de-Lans glacier.”
The Pic Blanc overlooks the resort of Alpe d’Huez.
Straddling the communes of Oz-en-Oisans and Le Freney d’Oisans, the Pic Blanc is the third highest peak of the Grandes Rousses Massif after Pic Bayle (3 465 m) and the Pic de l’Etendard (3 464 m).
As the highest point of the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski, it has been a major attraction since it was linked to the valley by cable car in 1963.
With an average 300 days of sun per year in Alpe d’Huez (according to Météo France), and known as the “Island in the Sun”, the view is very often clear, so it is no surprise that thousands of people ride up to the Pic Blanc, both in summer and winter.
In the summer, the plethora of colours seem to have come straight from an artist’s palette – the blue sky, white year-round snow, green pastureland, ochre of some of the rocks and the emerald green of the loveliest lakes. The sharp-eyed will also be able to spot griffin vultures and jackdaws. Bike enthusiasts, including those taking part in the famous Megavalanche mountain biking race, will enjoy tackling the steep descent.
When winter dons its white cloak, the summit is the departure point for 2 iconic ski runs, the Sarenne, one of the longest runs in the world and Le Tunnel, a dizzyingly steep slope through a skier-only tunnel.
But it took time for the Pic Blanc to become one of the key attractions of Oisans.
In the 1870s, Joseph Bayle, the priest of Oz village, set off to conquer the peaks of Oisans and the highest point of the Grandes Rousses Massif bears his name. This accomplished sportsman chose the name “Pic du Lac Blanc” for the summit we now know as the “Pic Blanc”.
In 1936, Jean Pomagalski built his first ski lift in Alpe d’Huez. In 1954, the lift was built to take skiers up to an altitude of 2700 m. Finally, in 1963, construction of the Pic (du Lac) Blanc cable car was completed, coupled with the creation of a tunnel under the summit enabling skiers to link up with Alpe d’Huez. In 1976, the Sarenne run, previously off-piste, became an official ski run.
The cable car
The cable car stretching up to the summit, built in 1963, has contributed to the renown of the Pic Blanc. It was renovated in 1980 by Creissels on the basis of the old Neyret-Beylier installation opened in 1963. The downstream platform now “floats” and entrance to the cable car is via an automatic gate, rather like on old level crossings. The “original condition” atmosphere is a reminder that the cable car is taking you up to high altitude, up to the glaciers and everyone loves it!
The cable is in a single stretch with no pylons and is very steep towards the end. It is impressively high above the Piste du Tunnel.
Capacity: 93 people
Height gain: 696 m
Borrom/top altitude: 2622 m / 3318 m
Length: 2131 m
Average gradient: 35 %
Max. gradient: 68 %
Flow: 1015 people/hour
Operating speed: 12.5 m/s
Everything is now in place to make the Pic Blanc an unmissable destination in Oisans!
Guided visits to the Pic Blanc are available weekly in both summer and winter.