Another solo mission today, hoping to get the best out of a break in the weather (according to MeteoFrance) and ski the ENE face of the Pointe de la Sana, which sits out behind Val D'Isere in the heart of the Vanoise.
Sometimes you need to be motivated... the view from the car wasn't particularly appealing, and with constant drizzle it was quite tempting to head for home:
A few glimpses of clear summits convinced me it was worth a try, though an hour walking in the rain quickly dampened the enthusiasm:
As I skinned higher clear patches did start to appear, so the 1000m to the bottom of the face were despatched as quickly as possible...:
The Pointe de la Sana sits within easy reach of Val D'Isere, and the East face is a classic easy ski tour to a great summit, with views of the Grande Casse, Grande Motte, Tsanteleina, and all the Maurienne high peaks. The East-North-East face is a different ballgame, rating 5.2 on the Toponeige scale, with exposed 50º top section leading to a less exposed but still steep lower couloir.
The face normally looks like this, with the skiing line following the left hand branch of the obvious Y, starting pretty much plumb below the summit:
(Photo: Luc Mongellaz/Skitour.fr)
Today it looked more like this:
Persistent cloud made spotting the bottom of the couloir tricky, but after a 30 minute wait the clouds lifted enough to allow a good guess... 400m of climbing to go:
A quick turn-around at the top and it was time to start down, with care needed up high as the nights fresh snow was only just covering some rocky sections. The skiing was quite pleasant though, with 5-10cms of heavy powder over a firmer base. Visibility continued to leave a lot to be desired:
Joining the main couloir:
Some sluff management in the lower couloir later, and it was time for some pleasant turns down the Barmes de L'Ours glacier, before the reasonable conditions gave way to bottomless mush for the rest of the ski back to Le Manchet.
Normally covered in snow - waterfall at the bottom of the Tour Charvet:
I didn't fancy trying the Dynafit binding test with a sideways skis on crossing here, and opted for the boulder hopping option instead...