20cm of snow has fallen overnight in the garden and it is still falling here. The snowplough hasn’t been passed the house yet but we have 3 months supply of wood and enough pasta to feed a refuge of Italians.
The last 3 days we’ve been out and about. On Friday we went up to the Cross Country areas at Chamrousse. The road had snow cover from 1100 meters and a lot of panic as drivers found the limit of their abilities. I’m always amused when some 92 plated loon overtakes me on a blind bend (I always slow down and let them by) only to pootle by them a bit further up the hill in the wife’s Panda.
Anyway viz. zero on Friday. We just went as far as the restuarant on the cross country circuit and came back. A bit of fresh air. Saturday we went to le Collet d’Allevard for downhill skiing with junior. The roads were clear to resort level but had been blocked in the morning after heavy lifting gear had to be brought in to lift a delivery van out of the woods after it had crashed. Junior was not happy to see that the roads had no crash barriers on them with a shear drop just outside his passenger window. The runs were great and it was possible to ski off piste from 1600m, or rather between the pistes. There was about 10cm of fresh on a hard, sometimes uneven, base.
Yesterday I toured the 7 Laux backcountry. Because the Prabert road is closed at 1080 meters these days and the skiable snow only really starts around 1500 m I decided to go to the resort of Prapoutel and use the closed cross country trails to go as far as the Pre de l’Arc and then climb the south-west shoulder of the Jas de Lievres. Hard going as I had to break trail from 1450 m in the fresh snow right to the summit at 2300. It was only from 1650 meters that you could ski without touching stones and rocks and even then you had to chose your route carefully. The south slope was refrozen snow with 15cm - 20cm of fresh which only began to stick to the base from 1900m. Hard going. I tried to make use of the areas that had been depleted by the strong south-westerlies of the previous days to find grip. Although the slope is south facing a number of very shallow valleys run down the face. These had been cross loaded by the wind and I wasn’t very keen to ski back down this route. Instead at the summit I took the Couloir ‘Y’ into the Bedina valley. This couloir is around 200m of 45 degrees. It had powder in the top but had been scoured to hard icy snow lower down with a couple of steps that were not yet filled in. After the second step there was a large accumulation and it must have been here that Ben triggered an avalanche a 3 or 4 of years ago. From here the snow was perfect and I rejoined the pistes of les 7 laux to return to the car.