Posted on: 2020-05-13 07:54:33 by davidof

French deconfinement and mountain activities

The easing of the lockdown in France started on the 11th May 2020. The basic principal is that people can now travel anywhere in the department where they are resident and up to 100km as the bird flies from their home. Forms are no longer needed and most sports can restart. The prefectures of the Northern Alps took further and diverse steps that were specific to the mountain environment. For example in the Haute-Savoie the 1km rule was augmented with a 100 vertical meter restriction. Activities such as climbing were banned.

Col du Lauteret (2019 left, 2020 right)

With the ending of the strict lockdown the majority of these special measures have been eased. The watchword now is social distancing to prevent the so called "second wave". In the Northern Alps mountain activities are permitted between dawn and dusk but for "individual" sports. Refuges remain closed and access to winter quarters is only permitted in extreme circumstances, not for overnight trips. No bivouacs are permitted. Group size should be kept to a less than 10. When practicing an activity at a high intensity (cycling, running or jogging) 10 meters space should be left between each participant. For moderate intensity (fast walking) 5 meters and  for sports at a low intensity such as walking spacing should be 1.5 meters either side. The idea is that each participant should be in a "box" of 4m2.

Big wall climbing, climbs with relays and and caving are also banned. For other climbing activities (single length, bouldering) protection (mats etc) should be used, gloves worn for belayers as well as masks and material should be cleaned before and after use. The Hautes-Alpes and Pyrenees have not imposed any specific measures beyond the national rules but have reminded users of basic security principals.

The Calanques as well as most lakes and beaches remain off limits. Mayors can take their own measures to open lakes and beaches for watersports activities.

So if ski touring is permitted (within certain rules and guidelines) where can you ski? This has been a poor snow season and their is little snow below 2000 meters in the French mountains. Activity to open cols has been curtailed due to the lockdown. Even though there is not much snow rocks and avalanches block many high mountain roads. The col du Galibier is expected to open at the end of May or early June. It is possible to access the Plan Lachat above Valloire but the nearest skiable snow is 45 minutes walk. The Glandon is blocked on both the north and south sides by avalanche debris. The route de l'Ecot above Bonneval sur Arc is open and there is snow directly from the road. In the Belledonne snow is present from 1800 meters on sheltered north facing valleys. The col du Lauteret is open but there is a short walk to find skiable snow.