I met up with Al Hutchison today for a ski in the 3 Valleys. The original plan was to head high to get above the 'rain zone' of 2 days ago, but with clouds above 3000m and a worsening forecast we postponed our objectives on the Aiguille de Peclet and stuck closer to home.
Having met at the top of Burgin Saulire it seemed quite obvious to head up the ladders to ski the Couloir de L'Echelle, dropping onto the Meribel side of the ridge. Funnily enough the last time i skied this line was with Al about 6 years ago!
Looking up from Meribel - Couloir de L'Echelle (or 'Death Couloir' as it is sometimes known) on the right, Couloir de l'Antenne on the left.
Despite relatively thin snow cover and a scratchy first few metres, the skiing was actually quite good, with some pockets of soft snow on a firm base.
Al jumping them round in the narrow upper couloir:
Opening up the curves slightly in the lower couloir, snow a bit variable down here:
We then headed for the Mont Vallon, where the gazex couloirs gave a couple of good runs on varying snow - again some nice patches of smooth chalky snow, and the odd pocket off soft powder.
After a lunch stop to catch up with some friends i found myself back at the top of the Saulire and needing to get back to Meribel, so the Couloir de l'Antenne was next on the list. A bit of "ski-rock climbing" for the first 10 metres gave way to some more good chalky snow lower down.
Conditions on the whole are quite spring-like at the moment due to the very warm temperatures. Skiing down into Meribel was more reminiscent of April than January! Meteofrance are calling for 10cm of snow tonight down to 1000m or so, so here's hoping!