Ski-Touring: Killing Field Couloir West

2013-12-20 by davidof

Snow and Avalanche

Time Location Altitude Aspect Fresh/Total Type Skiability Stability
15:00:00 Road 1230 South-East 5/5 Powder 3
15:30:00 Just off the road 1390 South 5/15 Powder 2
17:00:00 Under the cliffs 1900 West 60/80 Powder 4 Slabby but no weak layers
17:10:00 Above the col des Ayes 1550 West 30/40 Powder 2

Avalanche Observations

Snowline Up: 1230 meters (4036 feet)
Snowline Down: 1230 meters (4036 feet)
Avalanche Risk: 3


Route Taken: Didn't climb to summit but stopped at 1900 meters below the cliffs.
Road Access Some snow on last 100m but no need for snow tires/chains.

Vertical Climbed: 675 meters (2215 feet)
Distance: 7.8 km
Weather Light snow, clearing.


I wanted to go and have a look at the snow that had fallen. Not much below 1500 meters. Initially I was heading for the Pravouta west but saw that the West couloir of the "Pré qui tue" looked to have quite a bit of snow. Most of the south-west face of the Dent de Crolles had no snow on it yesterday but some of these "couloirs" had kept a base. So I changed direction climbing across the face to the SW ridge. The couloirs that descend the face had been cross loaded with 40-60cm of snow. The SW ridge was the easiest option as it was nearly snow free. The best option would have been to climb on foot with crampons. A man and his dog were ahead of me heading for the Pas de l'Oeille and the summit, quite late at after 4pm. I traversed back over to the top of the couloir just below the cliffs at 1900m. Not that easy as the slopes had a lot of deep and somewhat cohesive snow. The top half of the couloir was very good however I had to bypass the rocky section 1680 meters before rejoining the couloir which lacked snow for 100m before the slope eased and the skiing got better again. The road had an intermittent base with 5cm of fresh on tarmac. Keeping skis flat I was able to make amusing turns on the surface.

Of course you may be wondering why this is called the Pré qui tue or Field that kills. Well it is lazy climbers who find the 500 meter climb in sun with their ropes and tackle to the base of the cliffs kills them.



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