First tracks for 2006/7 winter

Driving up the long, meandering Romanche valley towards the frozen wasteland of the col du Lauteret and its isolated motel always brings The Shining to mind. To be honest you’d have to be slightly unhinged to climb 600 meters towards the Col du Laurichard just to steal a few turns but such is the draw of the “plaisir de la glisse”. It’s been a long time baby.

col du lauteret
Shining motel, a tremendous sense of isolation

A smidgen under five months, three weeks to be exact. Around 30cm of snow fell at the Col on Friday night and this was topped up with another 10cm on Sunday. The snow started from just before la Grave at 1500 meters. Mother nature had been treating us mean this autumn.

col du lauteret

The pass was an isolated and desolate place. A kiteboarder was training for the forthcoming event but the only sound was the wind and the occasional truck crawling through the slush and crunching gears as it struggled to the summit.

The bowl from the micro ski station of the Lauteret up to les Clochettes had a significant amount of snow. There also seemed to be a good quantity on the road to the Galibier pass which was closed and up to the Trois Eveches summit. However the higher you climbed the more rocks were poking through the snow. Finally at 2550 meters, about 100 vertical meters below the col we decided it was time to ski down. To be honest we had also noticed some instability, small slabs and cross loading of small bowls and valleys on the climb. We didn’t want to go and test a col directly under influence of the southerly winds that had blown over Friday/Saturday.

col du lauteret
Here’s Jonny!

Oh I didn’t mention. I was also testing my Wed’ze backcountry specials. Diamir mounted Wed’ze midiskis from Decathlon. Well if first tracks are anything to go by they will live up to expectations. In the light powder they would almost turn on a six-pence, ideal for avoiding rocks lurking just under the surface. More later.

col du lauteret

Clicking into bindings and so another six or seven months ski touring begins. A tough job but someone has to do it. Have a great season!

Posted by davidof on Monday, 20 November, 2006 at 06:59 PM

Very nice. Looking forward to getting my first tracks of the season on Friday in Cervinia and Zermatt.

Posted by Adam @ on  Monday, 20 November, 2006  at 09:45 PM

I loved seeing the Shining Motel as it meant I was nearly there and another ski season in Serre Chevalier was about to begin after the long drive from Le Havre.

I remeber the little overloaded MG Metro struggling up the long hills from Bourg and being hassled and nearly run off the road by a big black 13 reg (Marseille) BMW and then seeing it, 200 mtrs from the top of the Col, wheels spinning uselessley on the black ice and snow. As my little car potterd past. I avoided eye contact and tried not to look too smug.....

Bon saison a tous....... Gram

Posted by Graham Shephard on  Monday, 20 November, 2006  at 11:03 PM

David, after the big dump of snow last night I suppose you’re up there doing “First Tracks Revisited” !!  Enjoy !

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 22 November, 2006  at 11:48 AM

Can any one help me and let me know if they skied La Grave?? We would like to take a Holiday there but not sure when to go or what the resort is like.  We know that the lifts get shut down quite often so if anyone knows the best time of year to visit it would be great!!!


Posted by  on  Saturday, 25 November, 2006  at 04:25 AM

Here is some information on la Grave from the site. There is one main lift, this uses a pulsed DMC system so can run in relatively high winds, however whether you would want to ski when it is blowing 100km/h at the summit is another question.

The area is essentially all off-piste, an avalanche safety committe meets each morning to decided whether to open the lift or not. Mainly the lift doesn’t open when the risk is 4 (high) or 5 (extreme) but these levels occur on around a dozen days in the whole season.

When the area is closed you can ski in the nearby Ski Meije areas, le Chazelet is the most interesting or go to les Deux Alpes, Serre Chevalier or Montgenevre ski resorts. You would need a car to get to these areas.

La Grave is scheduled to open on the 23rd of December this year. I’ve only skied in the depths of winter, most people suggest early March when the snow conditions are still good but the days are a bit longer and milder.

Posted by davidof on  Saturday, 25 November, 2006  at 09:35 AM
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