Saturday, 6 March 2010

Steep Vanoise Part 2

A great couple of day to finish off this week's Steep Vanoise trip...

Thursday morning saw the team heading back up to Champagny, hoping for a hole in the clouds for another trip down the North Face of Bellecote. After a warm up run down the Telecabine couloir the Traversee chair finally opened and with visibility holding out we made our way to the top of the Canadiens Couloir. This has a steep start, with the first 250/300m at solid 45º, and with a couple of days since the last snowfall for the snow to consolidate we found packed powder on a firm base - not as much fun as Tuesday, but perfectly skiable.

Steve on the top pitch:

Nick half-way down, only another 500m of couloir to go...:

The visibility held just long enough for us to complete our run down the face, with the snow staying good down into the valley. A full house meant we were denied Diots & Crozets at the Fer a Cheval café, so a late lunch was had as we made our way back through the La Plagne lift system in the thick cloud which had by now descended..

How to finish the week in style? With a good forecast I met the team at the Saulire with a traverse of the Col du Biol over to Pralognan as the day's objective. A quick slide from Chanrossa round past the Grand Plan refuge saw us donning skins and losing layers for the skin up to the Rocher de Plassa:

Above the Col des Saulces, heading for the Rocher de Plassa:

A cold wind kept us cool on the way up, but didn't encourage any lingering, so we quickly swapped to downhill mode for the almost ever-present powder fields of Les Glacerets:

Resisting the temptation to continue the descent into Les Avals, skins reappeared and we made our way up the steep & narrow approach to the Col du Biol - good kick-turn technique definitely required here...Steve approaching the Col:

Graham at the Col:

With the last of the early afternoon sun still just grazing the NE side of the Col we removed skins for the descent into Pralognan - it's always a pleisure to be the first putting tracks into a descent like this!:

The snow was perfect - 4 inches of super-light powder over a firm but smooth base made for excellent skiing...
Jack in the middle section of the descent

Graham in action:

Nick slashing away on his board:

Looking up at the Breches Portetta - 2 teams through there today:

The wide slope where the Breche & Col routes meet had a grand total of 5 tracks in it, so finding our own patches of fresh was definitely not a problem, though Graham did manage to encounter some frozen lumps under the powder leading to a spectacular high-speed crash and some 1 ski powder skiing...!

They are in there somewhere - the team tackle the tree section leading to the path to Pralognan:

A welcome rest in Pralognan - cheers guys - here's to next winter!!:

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