After a dry, hot autumn when snow only fell at altitude, if at all the Northern Alps have been pounded for the last 4 days leaving up to a meter of fresh in places. All this accompanied by strong winds from the North to North West and falling on a fragile base above 2400 meters. Not a day for the big mountains. We decided to head up to the Col du Pouta in the 7 Laux ski domain for some powder action before they open their doors on Saturday.
A lot of wind transport on the ridges, from north sector to south.
In the final third of the climb we were caught up by the PGHM who were out on an exercise. The dog you see is Jip, who is one of their avalanche dogs. They arrived with great fanfaire “we’re the PG, we can take over the trace from here if you want”. I continued another 50 meters through deep, heavy powder then let the PGHM dogs see the rabbit. Well after a 100 meters they decided it would be better if we all took turns at the front as climbing was very difficult. We ended up forming a lead group of 3 as Jip had collapsed in the trail and was whimpering with his eyes popping out of his head it was so difficult for him to walk, even in our tracks. Poor dog, he was really upset not to make the col. I told his handler to maybe lay off the NubaKanuba for a few days.
At the col there was a stiff easterly and the views were like Valdez!
The ski down was harder work. Lets talk snow. At Prapoutel at 1350 m there was 15cm of snow but between 1350 - 1700 it had rained yesterday. Hard to believe but someone had phoned me from les Deux Alpes last night to say it was raining in the village but snowing at l’Alpe d’Huez. This rain had carved out channels in the snow pack and all this had refrozen as the skies cleared. On the way down it was a case of losing altitude rather than skiing. It will form a nice base for fresh snow though. Higher up it was dense powder. Probably 60cm if not a bit more at the col at 2350m. The slopes we were on had been bare 4 days before so little chance of weak layers but the powder was heavy going.