Monday, 21 January 2008

Good conditions continue despite warm temperatures.

Despite Spring-like temperatures snow conditions are remaining good in the 3 Valleys.

Yesterday with Jason and Tony we skied Creux Noirs bowl, Marioland and various other bits of offpiste finding great soft snow with a wafer-thin layer of crust on top that made no difference to the skiing but was great for atmosphere with all the loose snow sliding easily on its surface.

Today I went out on a solo mission for a couple of steep couloirs. First up was the Couloir de la barre des Mures Rouges (centre of picture):

Having passed below this a few days ago and looked in yesterday from the top I was sure it was in good conditions...quite rare for this South East facing gully. It gave a good ski with a mix of soft snow, some scrapy sections, and generally quite exposed with large sections above rock bands/cliffs; you certainly wouldn't want to fall in the first 2/3 of this couloir. The exit proved to be the trickiest part, with a 5 foot wide gap 6 feet deep where the lower slope was creeping on the grassy base; this needed a bit of trickery to overcome, and the lower slope gave some great powder turns.

Next up was a couloir on the North side of the Aiguille du Fruit just right of the classic main NE couloir. In the picture its the obvious left hand branch of the V couloir system (just Right of centre):

I had skied the right hand branch last spring in heavy snow, and was keen to get up this in good soft snow. A handy skin track up the main couloir took me to where the Y couloir branches off, and a boot pack from 2 boarders who had been up the RH branch (cheers guys) made life easy up to the split. This left 300m of swimming up steep, deep soft snow to the col and a bit of sunshine. View from the top looking down:

A few minutes in the sun looking down the sunny-side couloir then into action and some great snow all the way down. Looking back up from part-way down:

And more to come:

Forecast is for snow down to 900m tomorrow morning then clearing again, which should set things up nicely for the rest of the week...

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