Nordic Skiing: High Plains Skier - 1,816 m. (5,958 ft)

Sun, 17 April 2022


Minimum altitude: 1,415 meters

Distance: 21.8 km

Slope Aspect: North

Vertical Climbed: 1,011 meters (3,317 feet)

Vertical Descended: 1,006 meters


I was a bit tired after covering 90k on skis at l'Alpe d'Huez yesterday. Ok a third of that was probably on lifts but still. Anyway with bad weather incoming from Tuesday I decided to take advantage of the clear skies and refreeze to do a bit of crust skiing on the Hautes Plateaux de Chartreuse. The second from last Haute-Plateau to be precise. It had snowed about a meter on the plateaux two weeks ago so I was hoping to find good conditions and I also planned to be a bit earlier than in the past to get a better refreeze.

Snow on the road up at 1350 meters was already a sign that things were going to be more interesting this spring. On the path that traverses under the cliffs at around 1600 meters there was a lot of residual snow from the storm that blew in a couple of weeks back. At 1650 there is around 150 meters of steep zigzag path and I fitted crampons to my trainers. Safety first, as the guys at Chernobyl always say!

At 1750 I fitted skis and set out for the Croix de l'Alpe then I skied the still very hard west slopes down to the valley before climbing to the Roche de Fitta (1730m) at the southern end of the plateau. I climbed on the west side of the valley to take advantage of the hard snow, descending on the east facing slopes where the snow had transformed. I followed the slope all the way l'Alpette (another plateau at 1550m) and the pas de Barres. The portion through the woods was a bit tricky with route finding in places. There were a lot of bouqetin skipping around, marmottes and I think a fox or hair (it was too quick to see clearly). All profiting from the spring weather.

The climb back was relatively hard work. Again I climbed on the west facing slopes to have harder snow but by the Chalet de l'Alpe I was out of gas. I hadn't had breakfast. The 140meters of climbing back to the cross was a sufferfest taking well over half an hour of criss crossing the slope under what was now a very hot sun. Fortunately the snow was still relatively hard. All that remained was a short ski back to the trail, a change of shoes and a walk back to the car past dozens of gawping, and poorly equipped for snow, walkers.


I parked at pre Orcel (1415 meters). Still some snow in the car park and on the road up and the path that traverses under the cliffs had a surprising amount of snow. Things were serious from 1650 meters on the final steep climb with over a meter of snow in places. Snow was hard, refrozen at 8h30, slushy/compact at 11h30 on my return. A lot of snow on the plateau, this will surprise a lot of people going for an easter sunday stroll.


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