Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A birthday ski tour.


I was quite astonished to turn up a Plaine Joux ski station to find the police directing the traffic and making sure every car was parked carefully, in order to maximise the places. The weather was beautiful, the scene was completely perfect. There were people everywhere.  The one thing that was not right was that the lift system wasn't actually open..

This was clearly not an issue for everyone there.  In fact `I suspect that the fact that the lift was closed was part of the attraction.  There were people skinning up the pistes with their dogs [ something you aren't normally allowed to do]. 

There were people on snow shoes , there were people without snow shoes, there were  people dragging toboggans.

In addition  a constant stream of parapenters passing over head

There were even people there celebrating big birthdays .  This was us. Reuben decided that there could be no better way to spend a birthday than on a ski tour in jaw dropping surroundings.

Reuben enjoying his birthday ski tour.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

No Lifts No Problem

Setting off for the Mole
The lifts are still closed in France and Italy. In Switzeraland they are open. But for how long is a good question because "You reap what you sow." Covid is now running riot in Switzerland. From a skiing point of view the conditions are marvellous. It is cold and the snow is low and everything looks idyllic. The extra benefit of having snow in the valleys is that it makes ski touring wonderfully accessible from the car park. You can put the skins on and leave from the road without first starting a long approach hike with your skis strapped to your rucksack. Starting the tours by wondering up through beautiful woodland is a delight.
Sophie Seaton ski tours around St Gervais.
So far the standout ski tour this year was the ascent of Le Mole. Its a mountain that is perfectly formed and is in a wonderful position looking down on the town of Bonnville. Its a mountain I must have driven passed hundreds of times while driving along the Auto-Route Blanche. However although it is beautiful and spectacular it isn't very high :1863m. Consequently it doesn't come into skiing condition all that frequently. When it does, it becomes a highly prized objective. Catherine and her husband Richard met me at the designated RDV point, where we dumped a car because this would be the point we skied back to. We set off up a track that was well travelled, not just by skiers but by many people on snow shoes too.
After an hour or so we emerged into an Alpage. Where we stopped for some hot Ribena.
The route went up behind the chalet.
From here on up it was a question of finding our own line up the relatively steep slope to the summit ridge. Firstly you come across a cross which you would imagine would mark the summit , yet in actual fact a bench marks the top.
From the top it was skis on. At first it was a bit scratchy [and narrow]
Yet soon afterwards the skiing was fantastic.
A short skin up a bump lead to some even better skiing on the opposite side of the mountain which then thread its self through a narrow break in the forest before emerging onto a track which we followed back to the car we had pre dumped.  A brilliant day.