Fresh Tracks in the Vanoise and Haute Maurienne

Descending from the summit of L'Uja back to the skis.

Descending from the summit of L’Uja back to the skis.

I have just had another fantastic five days ski touring in the Vanoise and Haute Maurienne with Robbo, Jock, Jon, Mikey and Tim.

We began our tour last Monday with an ascent of the Dome de Pramecou (3081m) before overnighting in Val d’Isere.

On Tuesday, we crossed the Col de l’Ouille Noire (3229m) and descended in poor visibility and snow to the Refuge du Carro. The weather cleared in the afternoon allowing us after an enjoyable ascent a great ski from the Col des Patriotes (3034m).

The weather was settled on Wednesday and we had a great days skiing on L’Uja (3379m).

On Thursday, we traversed the Col du Montet (3185m) before climbing to the summit of the Grande Aiguille Rousse (3482m). This gave us a brilliant descent of 1200 metres to the Refuge Prariond where we overnighted,

Friday was our last day. We made the most of it by completing the Col de la Galise (2987m) and the Grand Concor (3034m) before returning to Val d’Isere.

Excluding the poor weather of Tuesday morning the weather was perfect all week. Every day we skied fresh tracks, sometimes in powder snow and sometimes in spring snow. We saw very few other parties.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Ski Mountaineering in the Haute Maurienne

Tina, Scott and I have just finished a great weeks ski mountaineering in the Haute Maurienne. This brilliant area which borders the Vanoise has many great summits for the ski tourer and a number of summits which involve the use of crampons, ice axe and ropes to gain the highest points.

On Monday we approached the Refuge d’Averole before climbing Ouille d’Arberon (3563m) on the Tuesday. The final ridge of the mountain was under deep snow making this section time consuming. The descent on skis to the Refuge d’Averole was on mostly good snow.

Wednesday promised perfect weather. Therefore, we traversed L’Albaron (3637m) from the Refuge d’Averole to the Refuge des Evettes. This is a very long day involving 1500 metres of ascent, some pulling up on fixed ropes and a brilliant alpine PD ridge. We had good conditions for the ascent and descent including a number of good ski pitches on spring snow. The traverse of this mountain requires good visibility as the terrain is complex.

Thursdays forecast was for less good weather but we still had a great day skiing the Col de la Disgrace (3232m) before returning to Bonneval sur Arc at 1800 metres giving us over 2400 metres of skiing in descent.

On Friday we climbed from Bonneval sur Arc to the Refuge Carro. The road to L’Ecot is currently closed making the approach longer than normal.

Our final day touring was spent climbing L’Uja (3379m). It had snowed overnight giving us brilliant powder snow on the glacier followed by perfect spring snow to a long distance below the Refuge. This was followed by a quick descent back to Bonneval via the ski du fond tracks.

Many more photos can be seen on the ClimbNow facebook page.

Descending from L'Albaron (3637m).

Descending from L’Albaron (3637m).

The Gran Paradiso and the Haute Maurienne

Two new itinerary’s have been added to the ClimbNow website. The first (The Gran Paradiso 4061m) is a summer alpine course based between Chamonix and the Aosta Valley. It is four days long and therefore perfect for those who have less time available but would still like to climb some excellent alpine summits. The level of difficulty can be adjusted to suit many different levels of experience.

The Refuge Vittorio Emanuele II. Our base for the Gran Paradiso.
The Refuge Vittorio Emanuele II. Our base for the Gran Paradiso.

 

Teams descending from the summit ridge of the Gran Paradiso.

Teams descending from the summit ridge of the Gran Paradiso.

 

The 'Madonna' summit of the Gran Paradiso.

The ‘Madonna’ summit of the Gran Paradiso.

The second hew itinerary is a ski touring course based in the Haute Maurienne. The Haute Maurienne is located in France and borders the Vanoise National Park. The course provides some physical days on summits where crampons are often needed on the final ridges. For those with a longer period of time on their hands, this tour can be linked with the Val d’Isere to Aosta Valley traverse to give 10 days of brilliant ski mountaineering!

Summit bound in the Haute Maurienne

Summit bound in the Haute Maurienne

 

Paul Chiddle ascending L'Albaron.

Paul Chiddle ascending L’Albaron.

Further photos and details of these courses can be found on the ClimbNow website.

Skiing between Val d’Isere and Aosta

On Saturday 13th April Rosie and I made the short drive from Saint Gervais Les Bains to Val d’Isere. It had snowed the previous evening and we had a great day skiing both on and off piste on excellent snow. The ski area  was very quiet and therefore it was not hard to find fresh snow for skiing. We stayed in the village on the Saturday evening before meeting up with Scott and Tina on the Sunday for more great skiing.

Rosie skiing at Val d'Isere with the Haute Maurienne beyond.

Rosie skiing at Val d’Isere with the Haute Maurienne beyond.

 

Rosie travelled back to Saint Gervais on the Monday morning leaving Tina, Scott and I to begin our five day ski touring trip. We began the trip by using the lift system to allow us to access the Col Pers (3009m). From here we descended to the Refuge Prariond (2324m) and following a short break we ascended the Col de la Lose (2957m). The avalanche forecast for the Monday and the whole week was ‘Considerable’ early in the morning rising to ‘High’ by midday due to the heat and this route gave us a ridge to follow to the col making for a safe itinerary.

After our ski tour we had a relaxing evening and night at the Refuge Prariond.This is a very friendly, small hut which is highly recommended.

We were up early on the Tuesday morning to increase safety and ensure good snow on our ascent and descent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse (3482m). The descent was at first on powder followed by beautiful spring snow in the mid section.

Scott and Tina on the ascent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse.

Scott and Tina on the ascent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse.

 

On Wednesday we linked France and Italy with the ascent of the Pointe de la Galise (3343m). It was important to complete the ascent of this mountain early in the morning as it passes through a narrow passage which is exposed to avalanches when the snow warms later in the day. This meant we arrived at the summit early and therefore had a nice relaxing break to allow the surface of the snow on the descent to improve before a brilliant ski descent to the Refuge du Fond (2324m).

Tina and Scott relaxing in the sun before another brilliant descent.

Tina and Scott relaxing in the sun before another brilliant descent.

The Refuge du Fond is a small hut located near the Refuge Benevolo. It is run by the owners of a local restaurant and serves brilliant homemade Italian food. It has showers, small rooms and provides a comfortable base for a number of excellent ski tours.

Refuge du Fond on the morning of the 18th April 2013.

Refuge du Fond on the morning of the 18th April 2013.

 

On Thursday we made the ascent of Punta Calabre (3445m). This mountain provides an excellent viewpoint from where it is possible to see the Barre des Ecrins, Gran Paradiso, Matterhorn, Grand Combin and Mont Blanc.

Scott and Tina on the summit of the Punta Calabre with the Grande Casse behind.

Scott and Tina on the summit of the Punta Calabre with the Grande Casse behind.

 

Following our descent we visited the Refuge Benevolo before refreshing crevasse rescue techniques and returning to the Refuge du Fond.

The forecast for Friday was for a deterioration in the weather mid morning. Therefore, we made an early ascent of the the Col du Fond (3081m) before our descent to the village of Rhemes Notre Dame (1723m).

The Roc Basagne with the Col du Fond on its right.

The Roc Basagne with the Col du Fond on its right.

 

Rosie picked us up at the village and we returned to France and Saint Gervais via the Mont Blanc Tunnel for some lunch and rest.

Ski resorts such as Val d’Isere and Chamonix (near Saint Gervais) can be accessed via the transfer company Alps2Alps. They can be contacted through their website www.alps2alps.com. They also have a blog and facebook page with interesting informatiuon for skiers.

The deterioration of the weather did arrive on Friday. This morning, in Saint Gervais at 850 metres, we have woken up to a large dump of fresh snow! Up high in the mountains I would expect large quantities which will need a few days to settle.