The original plan today was to ski the SW couloir of the Lances des Mallisards and test out the 20-30cm of fresh snow that reportedly fell on the Chartreuse on the 24th. First of all getting there, the road from Grenoble goes over the col de Porte then descends down to the ski resort of St Pierre de Chartreuse.
The descent was interesting as there was still 5-10cm of snow on the roads. At St P. you take a tiny road to the hamlet of le Perquelin (976m), from St Pierre we dropped from 0C to -6C, confirming le Perquelin’s reputation as a deep-freeze. The road, which runs by the Bellefont stream) was very icy and not properly cleared this early in the morning.
There were a couple of cars in the car park and some tracks leading out. I rapidly caught up with the young couple who were laying down the tracks and set about laying down my own. From the carpark you head on a forest trail to the North East.
On the IGN map a ski touring trail (blue) is marked leading up to the Col de Saulce but in fact you head on a forest road to pt.1494m (trail not marked in the map, doh!) then traverse on a path (2nd right) under the Cret de Loirard (attention snow purges in the forest).
From pt 1494 you traverse south-eastward on a path that more or less follows the contours to arrive at the Cabin de Bellefond (1650m). The final traverse to the cabin is a bit hairy, a ski leader might even put in a running line here.
I had some problems with my climbing skins and abandonned the SW Couloir as I’d been recaught by the couple I’d seen earlier and they were going to lay down tracks from the Cabin to the summit. The climb is around 30 to 35 degrees bringing you to the Dome de Bellefont via SW facing slopes.
The snow on the ridges was icy but within a few meters turned to warm powder on top of a firm base. Absolutely excellent to ski especially as we were laying down first tracks. We crossed a couple of skiers who had made the climb and long traverse from the Alpe du Seuil by way of the Mallisard ridge, they would do about 2000m climbing compared to our 1000m.
At the col de Saulce we took the direct SSW slopes down through the forest to rejoin the track we’d climb up at around 1250 meters. Then back to the car on the forest trail taking care at poins where small streams crossed.