Monday, 5 January 2015

Early season Vanoise conditions = tenuous!

Conditions continue to be somewhat challenging here in the Vanoise; even before the big snowfalls of the 27th/28th the snowpack was treacherous - there were several avalanches around the wider 3 Valleys area on a variety of slope aspects - and the situation was only made more spicy with the extra snowfall and the wind that came along in the following days. Largely unreported was the death of a skier in the Mont de la Chambre sector of Mottaret, caught in a slide and only reported missing when he failed to meet a friend later, and along with several other avalanche incidents (including 2 fatalities and some close calls).

This weekend saw rain to about 2200/2500m, above this altitude the snowfall was accompanied by wind so the situation will continue to need careful management and choice of slopes (and we haven't even talked about the lack of base and number of rocks apparent in lots of skier's tracks off piste!).

The following video from La Norma on New Year's Eve highlights the current precarious nature of the snowpack - the slope is only just over 30ยบ and this is an area which when you ski it generally has a 'friendly' feel to it - just goes to show that every slope needs to be approached with care, and that even slopes you are familiar with need to be treated as if it was the first time you were skiing it and the decision-making should match this...

Given the choice I would be heading high for any off piste or touring, but with a large warning bell ringing concerning wind-loaded slopes and the possibilities of weak layers buried at some depth...

1 comment:

  1. No wonder the pisteurs didn't want us to skin up to the summit on New Year's day! (altis)