Snowshoeing: Winter of discontent

2015-01-08 by davidof

Snow and Avalanche

Time Location Altitude Aspect Fresh/Total Type Skiability Stability
12:30:00 la Batie 1060 East 0/10 Hardpack 2
12:50:00 Cross country trails 1260 East 0/10 Hardpack 2
13:20:00 l'Alpette 1460 East 0/15 Corn 3
14:10:00 Couloir Virgule 1800 North-East 0/35 Hardpack 2

Avalanche Observations

Snowline Up: 1060 meters (3478 feet)
Snowline Down: 1060 meters (3478 feet)
Avalanche Risk: 1


Route Taken: Took the trail from la Batie, after climbing from Crolles on a mountain bike
Road Access Clear, some ice on corners

Vertical Climbed: 1810 meters (5939 feet)
Vertical Descended: 1810 meters (5939 feet)
Distance: 43 km
Weather Sunny, some high cloud. Freezing level at 3000


This is the winter of our discontent. Or so it would seem reading ski forums given the very poor snow conditions. There are pockets of good snow to be found but climbing 1000 meters to ski 200 meters of good snow, and risk wrecking your skis, is not my idea of fun. So the opportunity is there to think outside the box and try something different.

So I decided to mountainbike up to la Batie near the small ski resort of the col du Marcieu, basically the shorted ride to find snow. Then climb on snowshoes to a real summit. The ride splits nicely into about 900 meters of biking and 900 meters of snow shoeing and interestingly both legs took 1h30m to climb. A VAM of 600 meters/hour.

The advantages of snowshoes is that they are light to carry compared to skis and boots. I also used my cycling shoes to walk which further saved weight.

The climb from la Batie had limited snow at first and a few annoying rocks. After crossing the cross country ski tracks at 1250 meters snow was more or less continuous, about 10 to 15 cm of compact snow with maybe 30cm at the summit in sheltered spots. The trail was quite well made and would have been possible with boots. The Aulp du Seuil valley has some snow but it has been quite worked by the wind.



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