After a false start yesterday morning due to weather, and a minor delay this morning (don't forget your boots Will!), I headed up to Pralognan with Will to ski the WNW couloir off the Dome des Nants. This classic 5.2 rated ski is not often in condition, but word on the street was it had a good fill of snow in the crucial and exposed upper section...
Leaving the car at Pont de Gerlon we had a bit of walk up the road and then set about the 1950m of skinning to take us up to the Dome at 3570m, right on top of the Glacier de la Vanoise "ice-cap". After a long slog we emerged on top to a perfect panorama, with only a few banks of cloud to spoil the view: Mt Blanc, Grandes Jorasses, Grande Casse, Mont Pourri, Grand Combin etc etc...
Will near the top of the Dome des Nants:
The top of the couloir is protected by a huge serac band, with corniced ridges either side, so finding a viewpoint to scope the entry wasn't easy but eventually we sussed our route, which looked well skiable.
Despite some patches of cloud that had been lingering the snow on the top ramp was already transformed and nicely soft on top, which gave us a boost of confidence to drop down the first ramp and get a closer look:
After this ramp the couloir is immediately exposed, picking its way round rock buttresses on 45º slopes, with cliffs underneath until you drop into the main couloir.
Will entering the narrower section:
A handy viewpoint:
Working down towards the main couloir:
Still a bit of exposure, but great snow all the way:
Into the main couloir, the exposure to the cliffs below ends here...but the monster serac looms overhead...:
And looking down:
In all the couloir gives a good 800m of steady steepness. Conditions were great with good spring snow on the right, a small runnel down the middle, and some softer but heavy snow over a firm base on the left. Out the bottom of the couloir we hit some great open slopes of perfect spring snow, until it all started getting rather mushy at 2100m.
Looking back up, bottom section the couloir clearly visible, top obscured by cliffs & cloud:
From here down to the road turned into a bit of a 'combat ski', with a fine mixture of shrubbery, mushy snow and a few rocks. Will going for the direct line:
A short walk back to the car and it was time for a well-earned beer back in Bozel!