Ski Touring: Petit Van West Face - 2,398 m. (7,868 ft)

Tue, 7 May 2019


Minimum altitude: 1,412 meters

Distance: 16 km

Slope Aspect: West

Vertical Climbed: 1,371 meters (4,498 feet)

Vertical Descended: 1,379 meters

Rating: 3.2

Snowline: 1,400


Although I had a great day piste skiing at the start of the season at Chamrousse I'd not been back touring this year. It snowed 30cm over the weekend but with very strong winds that continued into Monday so decided to wait till Tuesday to tour at the risk of missing the best skiing conditions. I was surprised at the amount of snow still at Casserousse at 1400 meters for a 7 May. I took the Breche Roberts North pass to the Lacs Roberts, this is a very pleasant ski through a natural environment despite its proximity to the ski runs but a long traverse. Then a ski down the first powder pitch before the Col de Lessines - this was very icy close to the col due to the storm force north winds that had blown for 2 days. I decided to climb to the Petit Van with the aim of skiing the West face.

The west side was a mix of hard snow and some powder, obviously the wind had affected the conditions in a not entirely positive way so it was a case of losing height then traversing onto the first pitch of fresh snow - about 15cm of powder on a hard base, then a nice ski down from the Col de Lessines before fixing skins again and climbing to the Casserouse. the Casserouse was powder on the right banks before turning to old snow, somewhat sticky in places and a bit tiring to ski at the end.

Fantastic conditions for a 7 May. I saw Pierre Ginoux and ... Killian Jornet at the car park. Ok not as exciting as miss France who was here last week.


Cold, 3C at the car park but relatively pleasant climbing without being too hot. Powder on West and North slopes, even a SE facing slope above the Lacs Robert. Hard snow close to the summits. Sticky at the bottom of the Casserouse. Overall good skiing conditions. Possible to ski from the car park thanks to the remains of man made snow.


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