A return to unsettled weather this week brought some hope of fresh snow. Conditions are not great below 1500 meters. As I had my usual 3 hour window and there is no more snow in the Chartreuse a trip up to Pipay in the 7 Laux was in order. Normally les 7 Laux was scheduled to stay open until 15th April but the east side of the domain is entirely closed as is Pipay. Conditions looked more like the start of May.
I climbed up by the Matatu piste to pt 2319m above the Col d’Oudis where the new Oursiere 6 man chair arrives. Arriving at the col d’Oudis the resort had put a big snow barrier across the piste to stop people straying into the tempting east side of the ski area. The piste up to the Oursiere had continual stone fall from the cliffs above and there had been a lot of snow purges.
I wanted to climb right up to pt 2319 but the snow on the east slopes was completely rotten. A layer of poorly refrozen fresh on an isothermic snowpack. I can see why the east slopes were closed as there must be a danger of avalanches crossing ski runs. There is hardly anyone skiing anyway now.
It had rained up to 2100/2200 meters.
Looking around you could see a lot of purges and even a slab avalanche in the Vallons de Pra. Not a deep slab but the deposit was large.
Here is a round up of the snow on the descent
North slopes 2100-2300m: 2-4cm of fresh snow on solid base (I stuck to the ski runs here)
North West Slopes 1900-2100: Transformed snow (off piste but heavily tracked over the season)
North West Slopes 1750-1900: humid snow, not easy to ski on my 80mm skis, something larger would have been ok.
1570-1750m: compact/hard snow (on piste).
Sad that the 7 Laux will close this weekend, it has been a short season and this is a worrying trend after 2010/11. There is still snow at altitude but it remains very warm. A quick look at trip reports today shows a similar impression. Best to head for North facing slopes now, still possible to pick up snow at 1400 meters, but watch out for the avalanche risk.