Early winter Andreea asked whether I’d like to go for a multi-day skittouring trip somewhere in the Alps. I was content with this idea as I did want to go out for some interesting skiing as well as I like Andreea a lot.
We started from La Grave with with famous old cable car, thanks God as it gets you a lot of elevation gain ;-). Then we skinned up to Col de la Girose and via narrow couloir skied down to Glacier de la Selle. You can rap the couloir with ~3x30m raps. The snow was ok but not great, I practiced my skidding down technique :-/. Short skin up and a bit of boot walk to the Breche du Replat finished out uphill for the day. What was left was a long ski down to La Berarde. The couloir down from the Breche had just enough snow to skid down, it was better to walk down, I managed to ski, but the conditions were pretty horrible. From the glacier there were beautiful views on the south face of La Meije. We needed to walk down ~200 vertical meters to the village as there was not enough snow. Strava.
After a bit of walking with skis attached to our packs, when we finally started skinning Andreea got a mechanical on her board. We managed to plaster it through (yay duck tape ! :D) but with a few more problems she decided to go back to La Berarde. With David we continued to Refuge de Temple Ecrin. This is an unmanned hut, we carried a 250g gas canister and a few freeze dried meals. We’ve dropped unnecessary gear in the hut and went up the glacier towards col des Avalanches. We’ve done only about 700m and turned away deciding that we don’t wanna be exhausted nor ski on a really wet snow, and the snow at the turning point was really great gentle spring slush. The amount of gas was just good enough to drink a lot, melt snow etc. without any worries. 100g would be certainly too little (we had a Pocket Rocket, not a Windboil though). Entrance to the hut may be hard to find early in the season if no-one was there earlier. There is an antena sticking out.. the entrance is not there :D, it’s about 5m to the right from the antena. Strava.
This is a bit of a strenuous day. From Refuge de Temple du Ecrins one goes first crossing a spur SSW then via Glacier de la Temple to Col du Temple. There is a bit of boot packing involved, though we did less than the guidebook or map suggests. The glacier is a bit steep, ski crampons I’d say we’re necessary. View from the col is amazing. There are 4 north faces rising from the Glacier Noir – Orientale l’Ailefroide, Pic du Coup de Sabre, Pic sans Nom and Aiguille de Pelvoux. A route on any of them would be a good entry in the mountaineering CV. From the col there is an awesome couluair to ski, but again there was not enough snow, hence we climbed it down. It was not straightforward, but the rope was not necessary. Skiing Glacier Noir was pure pleasure. The day was finished with another 600m of ascent to Refuge du Glacier Blanc (of which ~250m was boot packing on a path with no snow. It was hot ! Strava.
This day marks Ilona being sick… fortunately this was also the day of bad weather. Visibility was really bad, there was 30min-1h window of maybe 200m visibility otherwise it was just fog. This day should have an ascent of Dome de Neige des Ecrins but we went just to Refuge des Ecrins. David even twice, cause I forgot my down puffy from Glacier Blanc :-/. Strava.
From Refuge des Ecrins via Col Emile Pic we went further. Ski down Glacier des Agneaux which in the middle required either a climb down on black ice or a rappel. We opted for a rappel, also cause I had only aluminium crampons (next time in Ecrins I would actually take crampons with steel fronts). Another ~1k meters skin up took us to Refuge Adele Planchard. Strava.
There was an idea to go back through Col de la Casse Deserte and le Chatellert to Refuge du Promontoire to finish with Tour de la Meije but my cough was suggesting the sane solution – going down. We did 500m of uphill to Grande Ruine and skiied down via Glacier de la Casse Deserte and Glacier de la Plate des Agneaux to le Pied du Col. We got a ride to La Grave and went to Briancon. Strava.
Great tour, great company. I’ll be back.
Way to many photos.