Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ski Touring in the Vanoise

Bill Mills and Greg Knott have been ski touring with me for nine consecutive years and we needed new areas of the alps to explore, so I suggested the Vanoise. They flew in the Thursday night and I collected them from their hotel in Argentiere and we drove around to Pralognan which took about two and a bit hours. We dumped the car, bought a one way ticket on the lift system which catapulted us on our way. At the top of the lift we stuck our skins on and headed up this vast open valley toward the Refuge Col de Vanoise.
It was a beautiful afternoon and we arrived at the hut after about 2&1/2 hours. The refuge has excellent draft beer .
Saturday 18th March. We awoke to find the whole hut shaking with the wind. Soon the clouds came in and the options were limited. Yet we still managed to get out and do battle with the weather. We headed up to try and climb the Pointe de la Réchasse 3212m. The weather didn't improve it just got worse and so we turned around just before the summit. Re finding the Refuge was far from simple, but find it we did.
Sunday 19th March. The day started cloudy but the weather was forecast to improve. We set off for the col de la Grande Casse . If there is a better days ski touring then I'd like to see it: We skinned up the glacier de la Grande Casse
At the top of the col the view opened out and it was possible to look over to Tignes and far beyond.
It is important to start the long traverse by keeping high. This needs to be done for about 2km because when you have finished the traverse and you look back from where you started you immediately see why you needed to stay high.
After the traverse the ski down was very very good. Perfect slopes which seemingly went on and on.
Then the skiing wasn't quite so good because it was flat , hot muddy and knackering. Eventually we arrived in Champagny le Haut. We phoned for a taxi which took us back to the car at Pralognan. We spent the night in Brides les Bains. The next morning we drove to Mottarret just above Meribel. We parked the car and then got frustrated that the lift didn't actually open until 9.00am. We then rode the huge lift system through Val Thorens and eventually arrived at the col des Thornens. It was here we left the lift system and headed off up to the Col de Gébroulaz 3417m which is steep.
At the top were now in a position to ski the Gébroulaz Glacier. In the distance we could see Mt Blanc.
This was absolutely fantastic spring snow skiing. One of the great things about the descent is that we saw no one. Well apart from a weirdo in his swimming trunks walking across the glacier.

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