Well, I did it! I finally managed to get to La Grave this winter – on the very last day! They were saying that descent to P1 was difficult …just a bit:
Very dodgy looking down the lift track
However, once we cleared the mid station, I was amazed at the amount of snow on
La Meije – one of the most iconic mountains in the Alps
and also on her neighbour
You do see skiers and riders from the lift – the question is the scale – they’re so tiny!
These tiny dots have just come over the Col des Ruillons
You also see some pretty huge avalanches, like this one:
A big avalanche right where lots of people ski mid-witner
I didn’t stop for a drink at the top because the forecast wasn’t great and the light was going, so I was anxious to get over to our side. They used to pull you over to the drag lift behind a piste machine (the glacier is the only piste at La Grave), but now they’ve got this cute little job:
Great little 4 x 4 to drag skiers and snowboarders across to the drag lift
While I’ve obviously been aware of how much snow has fallen this winter, I just couldn’t believe how low the pomas were to the ground! Last year I had to jump for them!
Button almost touching the snow!
Looking up the lift line on the La Grave side
Once I got up it I had a pretty hard walk up to the place where they drop you off from the LDA side – hard work in the fresh snow, and once I got there I found that the definition was virtually nil, although there was visibility. This meant that I couldn’t ‘let go’ on the down hill parts of the track because I couldn’t see where they went, or how steep, or if there were any nasty windblown lumps …. This, of course, meant I had to climb a lot more than usual. What a welcome sight to see the hut where they take your supplement for the trip to La Grave, and – blimey – how much snow has fallen since we closed!
Half buried inthe new snow!
I did find a bit of hazy sunshine on the Lauze, and …. wonders will never cease, it had been pisted! Wonderful soft corduroy with just a whisper of powder on top, a wonderful ski down there, and I was totally astonished to see how much they were having to dig out the Cote lift – we were using that only 10 days ago! This lift goes both ways to give us access to the Lauze without having to push and skate as much as before. it’s the old Dome North lift recycled
Totally ridiculous, this much snow in the week since we closed
Once again I found most of the glacier had been pisted, and the ‘rows’ of alleys that we had in the winter had been totally filled in – I could just traverse across the glacer with hardly a bump! I skied some lovely soft, creamy snow on the Muretouse and then down the ‘triangle’ and onward to the restaurant at 3,200m where I took a short break to eat and drink a little.
For interested people, this is what they do with the piste markers:
Blue and red piste markers and warning signs, waiting to be put back up for the summer
And they’ve obviously been working hard up here – they’ve brought out a fair bit of the stuff that’s only used in summer
The cages are used by the clubs to store their poles in overnight. I have no idea what the blue thing is/was
I decided to ski down the red (Breche) and found that the whole run had been pisted fairly recently. I’m really hoping that they’ll open to 2600m at the start of the summer season, but this may be too much to hope for with the new lift company. anyway, there was super soft, creamy snow on top – around 10cms or so … smashing
The snow did get ever so slightly more gloopy just above 2,600, but still very skiable, and just alongside the Pano Bar I took this
You can just about make out the Cretes although you can see the viz was not the greatest
Again I took the red options and the snow was really super, although some ‘bobbles’ of snow accompanied me down the middle option of the old Grand Nord. There had been a big slide in the Grand Couloir, but of course I carried on down the path towards the Cretes where I met a nice couple up from Verbier (yes you read it right) for the day to ski tour. He was a guide, and they were super impressed with the snow – YES!
What was totally incredible was the actual huge amount of snow still on the path back to the Cretes
Astonishing amount of snow still here – just above 2,200m
A nice sit down at the Cretes allowed me to snap my tracks coming down from 2,600m – they were clearly visible to the naked eye, but I’m afraid you can’t see them at all in the photo
My tracks come down the red in between the 2 larger rocks – really!
ESF hut at the Cretes
Another bite and a coffee and then off to the Valentin, which was excellent snow albeit looking pretty brown. You can clearly see that it’s possible to ski right down to where my skis are with only about 1m of grass to cross
Valentin & Champamé still skiable
No more until June
and just in case you’re doubting me – this is what you see by turning 90 degrees to the right:
You could actually ski to the bottom of the Bosquet lift!
And so endeth the saga .. or does it? I still had to hitch back to La Grave to collect the car! I was lucky and didn’t have to wait too long for lifts, but I did have to walk across the dam where they’re doing massive work. I heard it had concrete cancer, and is being repaired so they can fill the lake properly in the future.
Stairs that have been put in down the face of the dam – not for me thank you!
2 Absolutely HUGE cranes in place now
And all this so they can contain
An absolute torrent of melt water – this lot from ADH
The lift I got from Chambon was from the guy who has the cafe and refuge at 3,200m at La Grave – very nice guy and recognised me as a customer – I was quite chuffed!!
I don’t think I’ll be writing much in the way of the blog for the next week or so, but this should keep you going for a while!