My neighbour Chris came over Friday and asked if I wanted to do a tour on Saturday morning. I’d checked the bulletin which predicted “rotten snow” and bad weather. It didn’t sound good so I suggested we head up to the local hill behind the house: le Dome de Pravouta. It is only quarter of an hour by car so nothing lost if the snow turned out to be unskiable.
Arriving at the car park at la Baure (1220m) you could see the effects of the hot weather. Junior and I had skied to the carpark the week before. Now the snow was a couple of hundred meters up the closed road.
The snow was pretty firm, a much better refreeze than anticipated. We almost considered fitting ski crampons for the climb to teh 1740m summit. We toured up the SW side, which is flatter but longer, then skied the east face. The snow was firm but with a good grip at the summit. This is considered to be a beginners route but it is actually quite steep if you ski straight off the summit. At least 35 degrees at the start. You can actually practice your “pédale sauté” turns. Well these are considered a bit old school these days; modern technique is to keep skis and edges in contact with the snow, this is aided by shorter, shaped skis.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2soYD8LX7YI - Old school Pedal Hop Turn by Patrick Vallencant
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E2wBno6kpU - Remy Lecluse demonstrates a more modern technique
We wanted to climb up the Dent de Crolles, which I’d aborted in the Pas de l’Oeille the week before but we were hit by some incredible strong winds on the east face and dark threatening clouds were blowing in. We saw some late starters just arriving at the foot of the climb and congratulated ourselves on our early start. Instead we headed down to the carpark and home for a 10am breakfast. Chris has never done this route before so was pleased to find a spot near to home he could ski.
Back in the valley… and the wind dropped and the clouds had entirely disappeared. It was a gorgeous day’s ski touring for those who had the courage to brave the brief foehn and proof that the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm.