Sat, 7 March 2020
Minimum altitude: 1,161 meters
Distance: 29.8 km
Slope Aspect: EastTrip Reports
Vertical Climbed: 776 meters (2,546 feet)
Vertical Descended: 786 meters
The Desert d'Entremonts has around 30km of cross country runs prepared for skating and classic (claimed 45km but a number of kms are double counted in this figure). The southern Cluse sector is more sheltered in a north facing bowl with trees providing shade. The northern Mollard area has south facing slopes and the red and black pistes both feature steep climbs of around 200 meters vertical.
I'd not Nordic skied here before although I've downhill skied a few times. The drive is reasonably easy from the Motorway junction at Pontcharra and there was snow from around 900 meters on the Col du Granier but the roads were dry. I'd taken both skating and classic skis but started on skating with the long Outheran red to the Col du Mollard at 1320 meters. The climb is a series of ramps on a relatively narrow trail, a couple of these were hard going. There isn't a huge view at the col, you can look down towards Chambery but generally all is obscured by trees. The descent is not too steep and brings you out onto a kind of plateau below the Outheran mountain where there are blue and green runs but both feature some challenging climbs.
From here you can ski rolling terrain to the Cluse sector, this is also where the downhill skiing (currently closed) is situated. The Cluse sector has wide open motorway type pistes, ideal for fast skiing and working on technique. The Pontiere features a zig zag climb then balcony ski over to the Col du Cucheron (1215m) where there is a large, sweeping descent with a hair pin half way down to catch out anyone going too fast.
The area is very pretty. Dominated by Mont Outheran with the Granier to the east and the snow covered Chartreuse central plain to the south.
Good snow at the Cluse sector which is more sheltered and shaded. The south facing slopes at the Mollard area were a bit slushy in places at midday. Some bare patches at the Mollard end. Possible to ski off piste (crust skiing) early on.