Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dome de Polset - East Couloir

A last minute cancellation from a partner for a hit in Chamonix left me with the option of a (relative) lie-in and some steep ski action closer to home.
Word on the street was that the East face of the Dome de Polset was in skiable condition - with a rare direct line through the bottom of the face just filled in.

9.15 am saw me waiting for the lifts in Val Thorens to open, and 3 chairlifts later I was putting on skins on the Col de Thorens for a quick thrash up to the Col de Gebroulaz. A bit of skins on/skins off to get under the Aiguille de Polset, then it was a final 100m up to the Dome de Polset at 3500m:

There were 2 or 3 people on the summit but nobody appeared to be heading Eastwards... as it was almost 11am, and the sun had been on the couloir for a while I figured the entry may be quite hard, but the main couloir looked to be softening already:

The entry was quite narrow, and with 2 or 3 old ski tracks the snow had been vitrified and was definitely on the icy side of firm... a bit of sidestepping axe in hand took me down 10 metres to where the couloir opens a bit, and the snow was perfect as expected... The upper couloir gives 200m or so of 40/45º before narrowing into a runnel which you have to traverse out of to avoid some big cliffs below. 100m of slightly tight skiing then follows, picking a line through some narrows just wide enough for a 184cm set of skis!

Halfway through the tight middle section:

Looking down into the bottom couloir - this often does not go, as the final 20m can be very rocky, but there is currently a snowed up ramp to exit :-) The couloir was perfect, 200m of 50º, again with perfect spring snow!

Exiting the face the good snow continued down towards the Col Superieur de Chaviere, time for a quick look back at the face before the long hot skin back up to the Col de Thorens:

Quite pleased with the 4 hour round trip... a great face, and there are plenty more lines off this side of the range to go at for anyone looking for some steep spring snow action with easy access (just check out the conditions first... not sure the east face direct will be skiable much longer).

For anyone heading out to Val Thorens for some piste skiing here are a few shots from today to give you an idea of snow cover - at 13:00 pm the snow was still firm all the way down to village level.

Top of Col red run (patches of glacier ice coming through in top half):


Looking across to Plein Sud from bottom of Moraine:

Boismint area - thin:

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