Ken’s last day in Yurope so we decided on a longer tour to the summit of the Grand Morétan
We set out around 8am. There was no snow at the bottom of the track but we picked up skiable snow at around 1200m. There were a few other skiers in the valley but Ken was surprised at how empty it was. It is true, in these vast north Belledonne valleys you do feel very small.
We climbed fairly quickly but it was very hot, no time to hang around if we were to avoid overcooked snow on the way down. The ridge traverse to the base of the summit was airy to say the least.
The summit itself had a thick layer of crust, or more likely a thin layer of windslab sitting on sugar snow. As this side of the summit is a big, convex slope with cliffs below it was a little disconcerting. Ken had climbed ahead and I follow in his tracks breaking through the slab to the snow below.
The descent off the Moretan was on spring snow, a little soft in places but very skiable. Ken wanted to stick with the programme but I persuaded him to explore the largely untracked right side of the valley where we picked up old powder that was a delight to ski.
We even found some steeper slopes under the cliffs.
Lower down and the sunbaked slopes were unavoidable, a short ridge of spring corn turned into isothermic snow at the bottom, a reminder that spring is well and truly here.
We skied down via the forest trail which was pretty much like a ski piste, great for tired legs.
Start: les Roches, 1130m
Summit Altitude: 2775 m
Toponeige Rating: 3.2/E1 (expo 4 for west ridge)
Gear: Ski Crampons, Crampons
Map: IGN Top 25 n°3433 OT Allevard
Road Access: Alberville -> Turin -> St Etienne de Cuines -> Vallée des villards/Glandon -> les Roches
Route: Climb the path on the left bank of the combe des Roches. This is often not skiable over the first few meters although you can descend to the river when there is enough snow cover. You leave the woods at 1350m. Continue on the right bank to the Oreselle 1720 meters (sign and ruins). Bear North-West to climb towards the col du Gleyzin (visible from the moment you leave the woods). At 2400m on the plateau just before the climb to the Gleyzin turn right to climb a short steepish south facing slope (ski crampons), this leads onto a flat section, climb westwards to reach a ridge that dominates the Veyton valley. Follow this ridge to the final summit slope.
Descend via the same route or take the south facing slopes below the summit ridge to rejoin the Gleyzin valley at 2300m - check out the snow cover when you climb.