On Wednesday Ken Anny and I headed out again, this time joined by Bernadette. Given the ongoing avalanche risk, especially on North sector slopes. We decided to head up to Casserouse to climb to the Grand Sorbier by the SW bowl then traverse over to the Vans.
There was much more snow on the hill than when I’d come this way a month before. We arrived at the Lacs Robert to see an avalanche had released under the Bottines (apparently triggered the afternoon before by 3 off piste skiers).
There was a good track up to the Sorbier. We took a look at the east Couloir, no one had skied it yet, probably with good reason. Despite this being a popular spot we still found fresh turns on the right side of the bowl in excellent powder, slightly warmed by the sun.
We then climbed up the Grand Van north couloir. We had to make tracks here and the snow was very unconsolidated. Just before the exit there was a scamble over rocks, the wind tends to blow the snow out of this couloir.
This left 150m of climbing to reach the Petit Van where we finally had a short picnic.
Anny and Bernadette decided to ski down the main bowl while Ken and I took a look at the West Face. It still had some untracked snow. At the entrace to the face I lost a ski on some hard ice… probably due to icing on my toe-piece, something to watch out for. I locked the toes for this part of the descent.
The west face was excellent as was the rest of the Vans bowl. All that remained was to refit skins and climb the 200m back to Chamrousse to descend by the pistes. At 1600m we were greated by a chemical smog rising up from Grenoble. Even in the woods on a narrow piste you could not see the trees or piste markers either side of run the smog was so thick.