Miraculously, Georgie and myself had a few days off at the same time. This is a little unheard of. We went on the hunt for good snow. Timing was critical. We were in the midst of a spring like freeze thaw cycle in the days and nights. Timing the descent to make sure the snow was skiable was pretty important. We won on two days!
The Col de la Terrasse sits high above Vallorcine, one side in France and the other in Switzerland. Starting in the little village of Le Couteray at 1329m we followed a 4×4 track up through the woods. The first hour or so is a little tedious as the track meanders higher and higher through the trees. Eventually it pops out on a wide open plateau by the refuge de Loriaz. Here the views are superb – Trient to Le Tour to Grands Montets. We bypassed the refuge taking a direct skin track t0wards the col. The snow was not great, there was a persistent crust of refrozen crud, we were not looking forward to skiing that! The sun was out and warm and we still had a good few hundred meters to climb before we reached the top so it had some time to work its magic. The slope below the col is pretty steep, probably 40º in places, carefully skinning up the last section we popped out on the col and had a cup of tea. Its a good 1300m ascent from the car, topping out at 2648m so we had a good work out and did it ig a good time so we were happy :) Clipping in a 1pm we had timed it perfectly. The crusty crud had turned to soft scoop ice cream spring snow and was a delight to ski. Georgie got to grips with steeper skiing superbly, linking little hop turns like a pro :)
Following the success of the lunchtime snow on the Col de la Terrasse we decided to stick to a south facing sunny ski tour for the next days adventure. Sunny South side slopes were also the safer places to be. We teamed up with Emily and had a leisurely start meeting at the Flegere lift at 10am. Our objective for the day was the Col du Belevedere. Taking the lifts as high as we could we set off, skiing first traversing a wide open bowl. The traverse is often horrid with re frozen snow and can leave you feeling like a vibrating mess after traversing for what seems like an age. Enough people had been across in the days previous to have made a relatively smooth path across for us.
This ski tour is magnificent, the view over the Mont Blanc Massive is amazing, best bit is that you have to skin over the middle of Lac Blanc. In summer this is a beautiful place to walk up to, a glowing blue lake with a refuge to either stay in or just grab a drink from. I always just find it a bit odd that im skinning over a lake though!
Lac Blanc in Summer and winter.
It was stonkingly hot and we had stripped down to base layers in no time. We made the col at about 1pm. There was a freezing breeze blasting up from the North face. We didn’t hang about long at the col. The snow was as we had hoped and much like the day before except for a little wind crust at the very top of the first pitch. Exiting back to the Flegere ski area was interesting. Summer skiing conditions at times skiing through Myrtle bushes and jumping over exposed rocks!
The freeze Thaw continued!