Thu, 14 February 2019
Minimum altitude: 800 meters
Distance: 11.75 km
Slope Aspect: North-WestTrip Reports
Vertical Climbed: 1,240 meters (4,068 feet)
Avalanche Risk: 2
From Epernay follow the road that climbs to the south-east, then zig-zags to the south. At the end of the road there is a fork, follow the track to the left (south-east) that climbs through the woods to a clearing (990m) then turns back to the north-east crossing the Salle Droite river/avalanche couloir. Just after take a path towards la Maisonnette (1120m) leaving these buildings on your right as you climb to the Col du Potat (1351m) crossing the Ravion de Forion (attention avalanches). Climb the Planelin ridge to 1820 meters then turn north-east to find a weakness in the cliff barrier (Col de Cochette) by a large block. The final meters are steep and probably better tackled on foot. From the summit ridge turn south to reach the Dent d'Arclusaz (2041m) cross. Return via the same route.
Note it is possible to depart from the Col de Frene (pre Ballet, 950m) depending on snow cover.
The east side of the Arclusaz is steep (around 45 to 50 degrees). The descent is 40° max, 30° over 600 meters.
Route: St Pierre d'Albigny > Col de Frêne > Epernay
Equipment: ski crampons, crampons, possibly ice axe
No-one in the area, not even a track except for a solitary mountain goat. Excellent skiing. It is 15 years almost to the day since I last stood at the summit of the Arclusaz. That time with Luc and Bérangère who has had a hard time over the last years (losing her partner in an avalanche on the Chaberton in 2014).
The forest trail is skiable. There is around 15cm of fresh snow on a base of around 1.5 meters at the 1800 meters. Around 30cm of total snow at the village. No wind, 13C in the valley. The snow is sufficiently dense not to feel the base.
There was a point avalanche from the cliffs on the west side. This hadn't mobilized much snow, which reassured me about the stability. The east side of the mountain had hard slabs at the ridge which were easy to trigger for a single skier, only about 15cm thick but dangerous given the steepness of the slope.
Some avalanche activity at the entrance to the woods and full depth slides visible on east faces.