Sancy Ski Touring

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Le Puy Redon

The couloir north-west of the Puy Redon, the pas de l'âne is visible in the middle

The couloir north-west of the Puy Redon

The next day we fancied a little ski tour before making the 4 hour return trip to Paris. I'm not a great fan of ski touring close to ski stations but the Courre valley seems quite remote and savage and the Puy Redon, our destination, is a real little mountain. From the car park at 1300 meters we were able to fix our skins to the base of our skis and start climbing right away. Close to the parking is a curious little house without a roof. This is a memorial to three resistance fighters, Marcel Bouchaudy and Raymond and Abel Rezier who were burnt alive here by the Gestapo on the 27th April 1944.

Keeping to the right bank of the Courre means you can climb to the summit without taking your skis off, even this late in the season. Unlike in 1975, the pistes have long since stopped for the season and all is still and quite. We wanted to try either the north-west couloir (l'envers du Redon) or the north couloir (couloir Collangette) which is in shadow directly under the secondary peak in the photo or the couloir en 'L', to the right of the summit. However as both are quite steep we climbed to the top of the Courre valley, only having to use conversions when the gradient passed 25 degrees. This route would also be possible on snow shoes or even on foot. Later in the morning we saw a number of walkers roped together and equipped with crampons. The top of the valley is guarded by a number of stack like forms, a witness to the volcanic activity in the region. You would either need to climb the last bit of the valley on foot or fix harscheisen if the snow is frozen. From the top of the valley we climbed along a small path on the southern flanks of the Redon. The pistes and lifts of Chastreix were visible here, it would be possible to ski from Chastreix over to le Mont Dore with a short climb and both stations are on a combined lift pass. The return to Chastreix would be by the path we were now on which eventually leads to the Puy de Sancy.

When we reached the head of the val d'Enfer we doubled back up a short, wide ridge to the top of the Redon. From here there is the 'Y' couloir that we'd skied the previous day, a short steep slope down to the couloir north-west and then, over to the west, a slightly longer slope that leads to the start of a wide 'L' shaped couloir oriented to the north. The start did not have enough snow so we settled for the north-west couloir. The initial few meters are over a slope around 45° but this levels out to around 40°. The snow was pretty good, even though the recent covering didn't stick very well and would come away in sloughs that would slide down the pitch catching us up on later turns.

All too quickly it was over, we skied across the valley, steep enough that we didn't need to pole and back to the car.

Other Routes

When there is sufficient snow you can ski the couloirs on the west flank of the Sancy down to the vallée de la Fontaine Salée. Return is either by climbing on skins or taking the cross country ski path to Chastreix and using the tows there to gain as much height as possible on the south face of the Redon, a short climb gets you into the bowl at the top of the Courre valley to rejoin the station of Mont Dore.

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