Ski-Touring: Last Comma Couloir of the season?

2015-03-23 by davidof


Route Taken: as topo
Road Access Clear

Vertical Climbed: 930 meters (3051 feet)
Distance: 7 km
Weather Cloud sea to 1100m. Sunny and warm above.


It had snowed a bit on Saturday night and there were reports of "ok" conditions in the Chartreuse on Sunday despite the poor weather. I counted on things clearing overnight with a bit of a refreeze and a return to this east facing couloir to take advantage of spring snow conditions, maybe topped off with a bit of sugar icing. At the ski resort there was still snow to the bottom of the pistes. It was thick cloud but the sun did not look that far away. The Snow is almost "neve" out of the forests, Quite dense with little risk of avalanche. It has pretty much been that way for the last month in the Chartreuse.

The "blue" piste had been scoured by a ratrac last week and there was only a narrow band of snow. At around the top of the runs the sun came out and there was a view over the Belledonne range with clouds filling the Gresivaudan valley. The traverse above the ski lift lacked snow for 20 meters and there were another couple of short bare sections on the path to l'Alpette. There was fresh snow on the path from 1400 meters, a single cm but better than nothing.

It was hard going after l'Alpette because a lot of walkers had climbed from the Batie trail and left wall to wall postholes. I had to skin just off the right of the trail. Things got a bit better reaching the cirque and the track was pretty well made, avoiding the bare rocks of last week. The traverse at the top has about 150 meters snow free. I arrived at the cross as 10am and decided to ski down a couple of hundred meters into the Aulp de Seuil valley. The Lances des Mallisards looked tempting but I didn't have time to go further. The Aulp de Seuil valley had about 2-3cm of fresh snow on a hard base.

Climb times

  • Aulp du Seuil: 58m05 minutes
  • Top of pistes: 15m04s
  • Pistes to Prairie: 16m31s
  • Prairie to Summit Cross: 26m14s

The couloir had about 10cm of fresh, windblown snow accumulated in the funnel but nothing too exciting. Conditions were marginally better than last week thanks to fewer skiers leaving tracks and the fresh snow. Someone had still side slipped most of the couloir though leaving hard, spring snow.

The forest was pretty much unskiable. I traversed over to l'Alpette where the NE facing field was in good condition then the path down to the ski runs, taking care to avoid the bare patches. I skied down the Essarts red at the end to avoid having to take off my skis on the traverse to the blue run.

The route is still a good option, either in itself, or to tour to the Dome de Bellefont or Mallisards but, baring some fresh snow, there will start to be some more serious sections of portage by the end of the week.



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