I decided on a longish tour today as I’m busy this weekend. Direction the col de Marcieu (1060m) (a small ski resort between Grenoble and Chambery) and some unfinished business with the south-west couloir of the Lances de Mallisard.
First the climb up to the l’Aulp du Seuil. This east facing bowl was really catching the sun and was baking hot. I came across the debris of a large avalanche, it had probably come down over the last weekend. Luckily no-one was in its way. It had run some 300 meters and broken a few trees. The forest commission has planted trees in the bowl to stabilize the snow, they will have to plant more. The bowl is known as an avalanche zone but I’ve not seen a slide like this in the last decade.
I crossed a team of army cadets on this first part of the climb. They were from a regiment based in nearby Varces and were lead by a very attractive lady soldier.
At the top of the bowl you traverse north to reach the top of the Aulp de Seuil couloir. This was almost a ski piste so many people had skied it. I’ve done it a couple of times in fresh untracked powder but you’d have to get up early or ski it in marginal conditions to get them nowadays.
From the Aulp you ski down gentle west facing slopes to the Cabane de l’Aulp de Seuil (closed) then climb what look like very steep slopes by the right of a cliff to the Lances de Mallisard.
The problem with skiing the couloirs of the Mallisard and Montbrun (more later) is that you first have to find your couloir. In the case of the Mallisard SW it is at the far end of the summit ridge.
The entrance is steep and narrow but short. It then opens out into a nice couloir, the snow was settled powder.
except a short narrow section that was hard snow. The couloir opens onto the SW face. This had not seen much sun and was crusty or hard snow, traversing to the south brought more springlike conditions
I came across some members of the French rescue services (Police) in the couloir and had a bit of a chat with them, they were taking advantage of the lack of accidents this season to do some on the terrain training
A couple of escaped sheep were munching on one of the rare outcrops of grass, they seem to be able to move around on the snow and don’t seem to mind the cold
back to the Cabane de Bellfont and it was time to fit skins and climb up to the Montbrun