During the summer Dan and Pete climbed a rock route on the south face of the Pouce, one of the largest rock faces in the Aiguille Rouges. On their way to the route they commented on what a lovely ski down the Combe under its big face would be, so, with a good weather forecast they set off to do just that! Now, skiing at this time of year can be both glorious and very hard work. The snow is softened in the warmth of the spring sun and then re-frozen during the cold nights. If you get the sweet spot of timings just right the skinning up can be a breeze on slightly sun warmed snow and the skiing down can be beautiful in buttery soft deliciousness – it can also be the complete opposite – be bullet hard or yoghurty wet. Unfortunately they found the latter. The sun had not been on the south side of the Gliere long enough to warm it for their first skin. That did however, make the steep top section easier to climb with a nice hard bootpack in place! Once over the ridge and onto the north face the snow was hard packed but perfectly skiable down into the Combe du Pouce, probably the best snow they found all day! Once in the Combe it was a bouncy hard rollacoaster all the way to the exit couloir. They hadn’t held very high hopes of the couloir being any better and unfortunately they were right, narrow, icy and avalanched filled rubble fest! excellent! After the combat ski down the couloir they inhaled some go fast caffeine gels, swallowed some water and started the long 900 meter skin back up to get into the Berard valley. The sun by-now had most definitely had its way with the snow. They chose a slightly higher but safer route out sticking to ridges as much as possible and headed for the Aiguille de Berard. Working hard in the sun to get off the slippy sun baked slopes they got back onto cold icy snow and made it down into the Berard Valley. The ski down was a bit hard and bouncy to say the least and after a bit of stream hopping and marble run skiing they made it to Le Buet for a swift beer before the train home.
Some interesting extra bits from Pete here on our fun day out! http://wp.me/p2jrSj-qC