Following on from yesterday's post on snow conditions in the Vanoise I went for a bit of a wander above Val Thorens today motivated by that rare combination of a day 'off' (lets forget about the admin etc), no kids to look after, a few new bits and bobs to try out, and a curiosity to see how the snow was.
First target was the SW couloir of the Mont Gebroulaz - the obvious dogleg couloir in the pic below:
From below the whole of the couloir looked to have a reasonable fill of snow (apart from the narrows at the bottom...) but I choose to climb the couloir rather than take the easy option of skinning round and dropping in from the summit. The advantage of not being lazy is that you get to check out the snow as you climb - as it turned out the looker's right side of the couloir was well-consolidated, but with a cheeky refrozen crust on top, while left of centre wind-blown snow had accumulated on top of varying degrees of looseness underneath. Avoidable up until the dogleg but caution & common sense prevailed when it was no longer possible to stay off the slabby accummulations as the couloir narrowed and turned.
Ready to roll:
Skiing down was 'interesting' - there was a really nice strip of snow about 1m50 wide - further left and the surface was definitely very shiny, further right and it would have been too risky...
Exiting the couloir I cut across for the short skin and bootpack up to the St Pères couloirs - heading for the 3rd option which I hadn't skied for years.
Looking back from the top of the bootpack; short but steep:
As expected it didn't look fantastic... but I wasn't expecting it to be quite [i]that[/i] firm - occasionally thin layers of soft snow gave a soft turn or two, but mostly it was a good work out for the edges!
Looking down from the col:
Still a good day to be out and up high stimulating some red blood cell creation. And all good training for something (not sure what...).
View back up the St Pères from about 1/2 way:
If you are heading out then watch out for firm slab overlying some really soft layers, and sharpen your edges for other aspects :-)
Video to follow shortly...