Following last weeks 'winning' mix of dodgy knees, garages, and temperamental hut wardens momentum finally returned today.. A late night check of conditions on skitour.fr revealed an awesome report for the North Face of the Mt Turia from the previous day.
This has been on my list for ages so it seemed to good an opportunity to miss so the alarm was set for 5 a.m. and some hasty packing of gear followed. If you have ever skied in Les Arcs then you will probably have seen Mt Turia. From the top of the Aiguille Rouge it is the main face right in front of you, with the Mt Pourri sat just behind...seen from this angle the face looks ridiculously steep, but in fact it only hits 45 degrees max. The big issue is waiting for enough snow to stick to the icy face, making it a real Spring line.
6.40 a.m. I left a deserted Arcs 2000, heading up towards the Grand Col. First view of the face from the Grand Col - just catching the sun you can just make out the face dropping diagonally left:
With a good recent report on conditions I abandoned my usual habit of climbing the face before skiing it in favour of the shorter easier option, heading up to the Col des Roches. Looking back at the Grand Col:
A few folks were heading this way, dropping over the col onto the Glacier du Geay on the Mt Pourri. From the col though it is just a short climb up a couloir to get onto the shoulder of Mt Turia, and a 100m from there to the summit ridge and a look down the face:
As I hit the top a couple of skiers emerged from the bottom of the face, giving a good sign that it was still skiable. A short break at the top and by 10 a.m. i was making the first turns in soft but wind-blown snow down the upper 40º slope weaving between a couple of bare ice patches.
In the past the face was a wide snow/ice slope split by a few rocks, but now the rocks are a major feature of the face, with a choice of the easier left line, or a more interesting (steeper) descent skiers right. This comes to a narrow section halfway down at the same time as the slope steepens to good solid 45º.
Looking down at the narrows:
The snow stayed great all the way down, with pockets of softer snow, mixed with chopped-up wind-blown and the odd patch of crust...
Looking back up at the narrows:
And from near the bottom of the face:
A short but warm skin back up 200m to the Grand Col gives a last view of the face:
And then it was a great blast back down to Arc 2000 in perfect spring snow...
Les Arcs as most people never see it - deserted:
Snow due for tomorrow/Monday, so next week could be great (knee permitting).