Ski-Touring: Heavy Snow in the Chartreuse

2016-02-08 by davidof

Snow and Avalanche

Time Location Altitude Aspect Fresh/Total Type Skiability Stability
11:30:00 Couloir 1800 North-East 20/80 Powder 4 Center of couloir had purged
11:50:00 Woods 1600 East 20/20 Powder 3
12:00:00 Pistes 1100 East 10/0 Powder 2

Avalanche Observations

Altitude Aspect Size Type
1700 East Sluff Slab
1650 East Small Wet Snow

Snowline Up/Down: 1060 meters (3478 feet)
Avalanche Risk: 2


Participants: Sylvain
Route Taken: as topo
Road Access Snow at the col

Vertical Climbed: 800 meters (2625 feet)
Distance: 6.5 km
Weather Warm (13C at col), some sun, strong wind from south


The comma couloir has not been good this year. Last time in January the snow was hard and scralped in the couloir and soggy in the woods, but there was a good base and the pistes were ok. Since then we had a weekend of torrential rain and it was disappointing to find just 10cm of snow on the pistes with no base. There wasn't really a base until around 1500/1600 meters, that is from the base of the couloir itself.

The climb was in soft claggy snow that stuck to skins and made climbing hard. 1h05 to cover 750 vertical meters. The couloir was untracked. I made a few test turns on what I hoped was a low risk bank it seemed everything was stable. The center had purged leaving a large avalanche deposit at the base. I took turns with Sylvain to ski the various pitches waiting at islands of safety to one side or the other. On one of the more open ledges Sylvain kicked off a small slide that took quite a bit of snow with it. We were very careful about skiing on any such accumulations of snow. On the left bank the slopes had purged, probably with the sun.

We then tracked across to the path, the forest was more or less skiable but only 20cm of snow with no base. The path and prairie were generally good but the bottom of the path was rocky and the ski pistes lacked snow.



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