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TR: Jas des Lièvres: NW Couloir
Posted: 02 January 2011 11:35 PM  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

I check the weather on Saturday and it didn’t look good for the rest of the week so I decided to do a short tour in the morning. There was a double inversion layer in the valley. Clouds around 600 meters then another layer at 1600-1800 meters. I drove up to the 7 Laux where I’ve never seen so many cars (apparently they closed the resort during the week because there were too many people).

From the 7 Laux I took the forest trails up to the ancient Colonie des Vacances then traversed under the West face of the Jas des Lièvres. There was some avalanche debris blocking the track to the Habert d’Aiguebelle, it had probably come down some considerable time previously. I got to the start of the south-west ridge. No tracks, apart from Chamois.

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So I started the 600m of climbing. The snow was a mix of powder, breakable crust and nearly transformed snow depending on the aspect and terrain. There was also some surface hoar, I remember something from Tremper about inversion layers, cloud seas and surface hoar (must read up). Anyway a great deal of spatial variability for when it snows.

The south face of the Jas had been skied. It was still powder and was quite tempting but would have to wait for another time, it is better approached from the Prabert trailhead. I also took a look at the North couloir. It was powder at the top and had not been skied but I wasn’t keen alone, the slopes at the bottom can be avalanche prone. The NW couloir had been skied the day before and was apparently 5-10cm of powder on a firm base.

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In fact the powder was more a dusting, at least for the first 50-75 meters and there was some ice covered rock slabs not far from the surface. The slope is pretty steep at the top. It is rated 3.3/E2 and it would be nasty to fall on the hard surface as there were some rocks in the fall line.

After a small pinch point the slope opened out into the Combe de Bedina and some good albeit slightly heavy powder and some excellent skiing until the bowl joins the 7 Laux Pistes which were hard and unpleasant. There was some avalanche activity in the Bedina, again the purges must have come down some days before as the debris was frozen solid.