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TR - Domes des Miages ski tour

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After contemplating it for a few years (and asking advice here) earlier in April I finally got to the top of Lest Domes des Miages and skied down the Armancette glacier. It was a great trip, whetted my appetite for more ski mountaineering, may be it might seduce a few other people over to this part of the Mont Blanc Massif.
A friend and I arranged a guide (Greg) via the Guides' office in Les Contamines. I had a few ideas about the itinerary but the office made some good suggestions. The plan was

Day 1: take the Les Contamines lifts to the top of the Buche Croisse. Short skin (250m) to the Col de Fenetre. Ski back down to the upper part of the Montjoie valley (800m) at Nant Boran. Climb 550m to the Refuge de la Tres le Tete

Day 2: traverse to the snout of the Tres le Tete glacier then skin up to the top of Le Pain de Sucre du MontTondu (a bit over 3000m, climb of 1100m). Ski back down to the Tres le Tete galcier (about 600m) then skin 250m to Refge de Conscrits
Day 3: Skin to the Col des Domes (about 3500m, climb of 800m) then traverse the Domes de Miage before skiing down the Armancette until the snow ran out and back on foot to Les contamines (2500m down)

View of most of the route taken from the Les C ski area earlier in the season:


Greg checking out Les Domes des Miages from the Col de Fenetre


Part way down from CdF - looking at Mont Tondu


Near the top of the carry up to the Tres le Tete hut. Normally you would be able to skin most of the climb but the guides and guardiens were all bemoaning a dry season


Day 2 - on foot getting around "le Mauvais Pas" to the foot of the glacier. It's a fairly airy but good mountain path - not tricky enough to need rope


Sunrise on the glacier


Slightly awkward skin to Pain de Sucre - a couple of inches of fresh over angled neve


View to Col Infranchissable, summit of Mt Blanc beyond


Aiguilles de Glaciers and Tres le Tete


Start of the ski from Pain de Sucre


Day 3 - at the Col Infranchissable


Setting off up the summit ridge


From the summit looking back to Aiguille de Bionassay, Dome de Gouter and Mont Blanc


There was an "interesting" section on the ridge. Maybe 40m where it thinned to a narrow ice arete. The guides had chopped out a thin ledge but the traverse was on front points, hands gripping the slippery ice crest at a bit above waist height. I didn't spend much time looking down - about 500m of 60-70 degree ice between your feet. Greg had set up a fixed rope on ice screws as a back up to the rope he was leading us on so although it was exciting it was safe.


Well earned lunch on the summit. Trying to recharge our batteries enough to do justice to the descent


Looking down the top section of the Armancette glacier - Les Contamines is in the valley below, at 1100m. Les C ski area is on the lower mountains opposite. Megeve over that ridge. Feeling high up at 3650m!


And so the ski. Not too many pics I'm afraid but it is a memorable ski. I was surprised how sustained the gradient was. Short sections of 45 degrees, longer at 40 degrees but seldom below 30. We started in tricky wind crust, then grippy chalk before a bit of powder then lots and lots of lovely spring snow. Only slushy as the snow ran out at about 1600m. In good conditions you can ski to the village but we had a pleasant walk through the pines.

Snow on the upper section kept us on our toes - wind crust over powder


About half way down looking towards the Arve valley, route goes left in front of the rocky ridge


A little powdery section to play in


A really great trip. Very much recommended. As usual I came away full of admiration for the capabilities and shear professionalism of UIAGM guides. Greg was great company and full of ideas for future adventures!
I found the skinning pretty tough going at altitude - partly this is about aclimatisation, partly about fitness but I also had a bit too much weight - gear choice wasn't optimal but I'll save that for a separate post.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sun 23-04-17 10:15; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great Trip Report
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Nice one @jedster,

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Looks magic
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Chapeau 👍
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thanks
made a couple of errors with my pic links - edited now
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Envious! Well done!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Good trip from the looks of things - though how many people are on that ridge !!!
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Yes - day 2 and day 3 were very different in that respect. We had the Pain de Sucre to ourselves but there were probably 25-30 people summitting the Miages that day although only perhaps 10 skied the Armancette. It looks even busier on the ridge because the short section of ice arrete was a real bottleneck and a queue formed as Greg and another guide sorted out a fixed rope.
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Great report, cracking pictures - I'm envious!
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