Ski-Touring: First tracks on the Dent de Crolles

2014-02-03 by davidof

Snow and Avalanche

Time Location Altitude Aspect Fresh/Total Type Skiability Stability
10:40:00 Pas de l'Oeille 2000 South-West 20/100 Powder 4 Slabby snow not bonded to icy base
10:50:00 Traverse under cliffs 1800 South-West 0/100 Windblown (Sastrugi) 2 Accumulations but no weak layer
10:55:00 Prairie 1750 South-West 20/80 Powder 4
11:05:00 Road 1250 South 3/15 Hardpack 4

Avalanche Observations

Snowline Up/Down: 1230 meters (4036 feet)
Avalanche Risk: 2

Description

Participants:
Route Taken: as topo
Road Access Snow from la Baure

Vertical Climbed: 770 meters (2526 feet)
Weather Sunny, strong east/north-east wind in the morning

Comments

It is rare to make tracks on the Dent de Crolles these days but the fresh snow and wind had wiped any old tracks and at 9am no-one had yet set out for this iconic summit. It was very windy in the Prairie with a wind from the NE/E to W transporting a lot of snow. As a consequence the fresh snow was a bit uneven and in the traverse to the Pas de l'Oeille a mixture of slabby accumulations and old hard icy snow. I was finally caught by a pair of skiers at the Pas de l'Oeille and one took over the trail breaking through the two technical 45 degree sections. We managed to climb to the summit skis on our feet, which is rare. I left the two skiers just above the Oeille as I had to be in the valley for a meeting mid-morning.

The ski down in the Pas was good but delicate, easy to ski and make turns but the fresh snow had not yet bonded to the hard, icy base. With 600m cliffs below it seemed prudent not to ski too fast. The traverse was icy snow. I then followed one of the "goulottes" down the prairie which had accumulated 20cm of fresh which was near perfect to ski. The powder perhaps a little heavy and wind blown and the depths a bit uneven. The road was like a piste with many skiers heading up. It will all be tracked out later.

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