Yesterday I headed for a “secret spot” in the Chartreuse range. I wasn’t able to interest KenR in this venture. He probably had memories of the “worst day of skiing” in his life in the Chartreuse last year and preferred to go cross country skiing. Cross country skiing! Yes you heard me right.
The south face of the Dent had about 20cm of frozen snow on it at 9am. There were plenty of tracks, with skiers obviously hitting the ground below on turns. It didn’t look inviting if I had to descend this way. The climb track went right to the Pas d’Oeil where some people had boot packed to the summit. A curious Chamois eyed me as I climbed and I heard a ptarmigan croaking overhead, pleased that spring appears to be here.
At the summit the conditions changed to windblown powder than to powder. I skied down to the Combe Sans Nom, the slopes are around 20-25degrees but with lots of dips and hollows to make life interesting. The snow was so good I fitted skins and climbed to the Rocher Pointu - rock spire clearly visible from the Gresivaudan Valley to ski down the west facing bowl. Conditions were light powder on the left bank (north facing) but crust on the right bank.
There was then a small (150cm) jump into the Combe Sans Nom cushioned by the soft powder. I had to ski down through the trees to avoid the sun crust on the sunny side of the bowl but it was the best snow I’ve encountered in this valley.
At the end there is either a 4 meter cliff huck or a short abseil. I’d brought a rope for the purpose. It is possible to downclimb as well with a bit of billygoating. The snow below the bowl was a bit variable with again some great powder between the source de Guiers and the track at 1300m that leads back to the col des Ayes.
The final 400m climb took 2 hours due to skin sticking problems - I ironed them when I got home to get the “curls” out. We’ll see how they do on Sunday. If I had not had the skin problem I would have skied the north facing combe de Giclard but maybe that was a bit too greedy.
The final 200m descent from the col was in the manky snow I’d seen on the face earlier in the day. Not pleasant and I was surprised to see people still climbing up at this time.