In between flying around the place for vacation, family Christmas visits and work here was a trip from this weekend. Setting out from le Perquelin to climb to the Lance des Mallisards via the west couloir, I skied this last year in better conditions
12 Jan 2012
lots of frozen tracks on the west face, couloir in the distance, the snow finally melted around 13h00 on this aspect
bottom of couloir was certainly not skiable this year, a victim of the Christmas thaw and rain, time to fit crampons for the climb on some steep, mixed (grass, rock and snow) slopes
Looking back down, similar angle to last year, top two thirds of the slope are okish and we saw some people descend this way but rather them than us
there is a short walk along the ridge to the summit
then time to put on skis on for a steepish descent. Skitour rates the tour as 3.2 but then other books suggest the east face of the Malissard is 4.1, which is more accurate. I think the idea is there are less steep options if you want them. Certainly the first turns, on poor snow, 45 degrees on a big open 450 meter slope are not ones to blow
With a view of le Mont Blanc complete with “chapeau” in the background
Looking back up at the tracks we’d left, it was fairly heavy powder except in the shade, turning to lighter powder in the bottom of the valley, some evidence of hoar forming on the surface
We then climbed up to the Col de Bellefont with views over a cloudy Grenoble valley
The ski back down was in powder, good in places but you had to search for untracked snow. There is then a long traverse under south facing slopes that has to be done quickly and a ski through the woods and back to the car. We had to walk for about 150 meters on the trail due to lack of snow (you could ski but with all the faffing it was quicker to take your skis off).
So ok conditions even between 1000->2000m but not really powder and not really spring snow, on this route at least but a nice day of simple alpinism and skiing.
Route description here:- http://www.trainingloops.com/lance-de-malissard-west-couloir-loop.htm