Finally got organized for a Dent de Crolles trip this season. Dropped junior at school which gave me 3 hours clear. Left the car park at le Baure at 8h50. It was possible to ski from the car at 1240 meters. The benefits of mid-week skiing. The road had just one bare patch at 1300m, about a 3 meter gap in the snow. The snow cover, around 30cm, should be good to next weekend at this rate. It was 12C at the carpark and there was no refreeze below 1700 meters.
On the way up the “prairie” I spotted a troup of chamois, obviously enjoying the calm that has returned to this sector since they stopped ploughing the road.
There was a good track and I reached the crux, the Pas d’Oeille at just before 10am. I fitted crampons and decided to boot pack as the Pas was still in shadow with hard frozen snow. Well not that frozen as it was possible for a foot to vanish to thigh level in places. I got to the summit at 10.30. Normally this would take 10 minutes on foot in the summer.
The step Pas is entirely skiable at the moment. As you can see from the photo there is a narrow section that is in shadow at 10h30. This was hard and icy and you are skiing above 300 meter cliffs below. Then again if you wait for the sun the rest of the slope would be slush. Really a question of taking this part very carefully.
Here we are looking down at the Oeille, there are some death cookies but the slopes off to the right were spring snow and very skiable.
Below 1700m on the prairie the snow turned to mush, here I tracked over to the less steep slopes above the col des Ayes which let me make large turns without picking up too much speed (the prairie is a 35 degree slope) to reach the road where I took the obligatory Dent de Crolles face shot.
There are a few rocks hidden just below the snow, in particular two in the Pas d’Oeille just after the frozen section which wouldn’t be great to hit given the exposure. The ski back down to the car was without incident and I got to school at 11h20 with 10 minutes to spare. Including changing into “civilian” clothing.