Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Getting fit

With the touring/steep skiing season now well and truly here and after a days rest from the weekends exertions I hooked up with Will & Julien on Tuesday for a bit of a leg-stretcher up the Pointe de la Rechasse from Pralognan. With the lifts still open this is a reasonable 1200m of uphill, and I was also keen to use the day to scope out the SW face of the Grande Casse which sits directly opposite...

Freezing cold in the morning putting skins on at the top of the Barmettes chair:

You can see why they call Pralognan "the Chamonix of the Vanoise":

Pleasant surprise above the Felix Faure hut - 20cm of powder snow!:

Will on the summit ridge 1200 vertical metres later:

Julien nearing the top:

A badly placed cloud blocked most of the view of the Grande Casse, but with some sun still showing through we quickly changed to downhill mode and set off in search of adventure in one of the many couloirs dropping towards the Cirque de L'Arcellin.

Julien & Will on the summit ridge:

Julien showing that 'classic' French style!!:

With clouds building to the north we took the most direct line across the flat of the glacier and headed for the "Entre Deux Roches" couloir, despite a convex slope narrowing through some rock slabs Julien assured us he had been up or down this way at least once...not fully convinced we spread out trying to ascertain whether the couloir was skiable or cliffed out...
Julien trying for a vantage point to check for a lack of cliffs... moments later a Lammergeier soared over us no more than 30m up...:

Does it go down here?:

Great snow in the big 'entonnoir', 25cms of perfect powder on a firm base!:

Will enjoying the soft snow, not quite as deep as up high through the narrower section of the couloir:

Big debris in the narrows of the couloir:

Out of the couloir we then hit perfect spring snow all the way down the Combe de L'Arcelin:

A trio of ptarmigan followed by a brace of chamois completed our animal sightings for the day, as we worked our way back towards the pistes for a well-earned beer in Pralognan.

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