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Ski Touring 2021, let's see your lockdown lines!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This TR will make some of you feel better Laughing

With ever-increasing temps decided on one possible last hurrah as it were, going back to the same sector but opting to go higher and further (last time was back in 2017) as having already seen it on the previous sorties and looking at the map & Google earth, it looked good terrain plus in the Summer I go past there often (bottom right of map) and lovely rolling meadows and on the map it's Les Planes.



Normally when we're touring in this area (late March April) snow-cover would not allow a descent all the way down on those SE facing slopes but I've seen it's possible to still ski all the way down to the XC trail/road and then skate out on a slight downhill gradient so not too much of a ball-ache, so I thought?

Decided on the Super Guide 88's as would be better than the 105's for the skating (4.5km on the return leg) and spent a fair few hours yesterday looking for the crampons for them as I was going to start early.

Left the parking at 08:30 and they'd pisted the XC trail, nice ice and crispy, skins on for first 250m vertical, then transition and little descent and skate along the pristine trail for 3km then skins and crampons on for the climb to circa 2,850m.

Glad I had crampons as I could take a more direct route, though as I was making good progress I did think that I might be too early for the snow-pack to transform.

As the sun rose higher did think it was a little overcast then I worked out it was the Saharan sand that had returned that I'd seen was forecast but no-where near as intense as last time.

Twas a bit of a slog of an uphill traverse and managed to pick a way through and snow was pretty windblown mank but lower down should be ok.

Saw another couple heading up from the Italian side to the main summit Cima Dormillouse 2,908m.

You can just about make them out the centre of picture




Managed a few decent turns and then the problems started


First of all, as you went to initiate the turn one or both skis would submarine in the soft snow.


Lower down you could be just skiing a straight line or traversing and all of a sudden you'd sink in the equivalent of late-season rotten snow. In the end, it was so bad had to carefully pick a line and not too steep in case a wall of wet snow would just slide, not enough to bury you but could break a leg etc strategy was downhill kick-turns. And just as bad on more NW'ly aspects and in the trees as I got lower down.

Once on the trail, that beautiful icy piste four hours earlier was sticky sludge.

https://www.strava.com/activities/4834933763

This morning up popped on my FB feed a picture from this time last year of me up at the Lautaret on my road bike, think it will now be more of the same today/tomorrow:roll:

Don't know if this link will work where you can see/hear me complain about the snow-pack Laughing

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLpYsR8jKkI/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Don't do photos but here is this mornings ski.
https://fatmap.com/adventureid/6080679/bostan

Pretty icy in parts, necessitating ski crampons for some of the climb. The descent was a combination of refrozen crud and spring snow. Bizarrely the nicest snow was the sandy brown stuff. It seems to soften before the normal white snow.
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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?
MOJO restored Cool

Have to admit to having been a little down over conditions and lack of any snow in the forecast, the OH was even suggesting that maybe I should come back to the UK for my jab!!!!

After the past couple of tours with a dire snow-pack, and all our favourite options nigh on tracked out it was all getting a bit of a ball-ache, not made any better by speaking to my guide mate who he too has had enough and has vacated La Grave for the Atlantic with his family.

However the last couple of days I kept looking up the hill in front of me through the telescope and the snow looked good, almost getting better by the day it seemed.

Now to get up there was a 1,200m climb so slightly more than the local instructors/guides have been doing with their clients, so just maybe it might be worth it?

The usual team politely declined my suggestion of coming with me with such excuses as having to wash their hair, thinking that I was slightly deranged at wasting yet more time and effort to ski yet more crud Laughing

In the end another mate, even more OTT than me came along as he too could sort of see where I was coming from re the potential.

As we climbed up I started to doubt my gut-feel as it was so tracked but then we carried on and the tracks were less and the snow in the shade was still cold powder, and as we climbed up a ridge we could see the snow starting to transform so that was an option for later in the descent, and it was nigh on untracked.

As we climbed up traversing the N facing slope so we started getting quite excited at the prospect, still cold snow and only one other had been up there.

Once at the top we had options and I suggested we ski cold snow but not all the way as lower down was more tracked instead we ski the Spring snow we saw when climbing up.

Cold snow options further along


Wish I had my 105's and not my 88's




And then later on Spring snow


Have to say last time I skied with Rich we scored some nice lines and again today, so in the video, at the end you'll hear me commenting on that!


http://youtube.com/v/5cOxCQU7n9o

https://www.strava.com/activities/4871011094
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Almost a repeat of yesterday, though a different friend in attendance Laughing

Took a slightly different line to ski the cold snow, and untracked wherever possible, and then again opting for a traverse to ski sweet Spring snow.

And think, weather depending I'm back up there again tomorrow, avec compeed already on, as sweaty feet means I've developed a couple of potential blisters if not attended to.

Will take the dogs as pace on the up will be slow tomorrow as another friend is not match fit, mind you it's the descent where they'll have issues.

Slight haze today with more sand in the atmosphere.





And then lower down in the Spring snow



snow conditions
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Today's tour was in the Aravis. Starting and finishing from the tiny ski hamlet of Romme. The snow was truly dreadful for 80% of the route. Couteau on and off twice. A lot of refrozen crud and a tiny bit of spring snow. It's going to have to be south facing slopes only for the foreseeable.

Here's the link.

https://fatmap.com/adventureid/6138711/areu
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@zzz, ugh! So pleased I have spend most of the day in front of my screen!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@under a new name,

It will be worth it hopefully. wink
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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!
zzz wrote:
......The snow was truly dreadful for 80% of the route. Couteau on and off twice. A lot of refrozen crud and a tiny bit of spring snow. It's going to have to be south facing slopes only for the foreseeable......


@zzz, I was thinking like that last week, but have now had my MOJO rekindled and ironically skiing up the hill straight in front of me in the confines of the resort.

Today the Weather Gods did not adhere to the rules, we made the shout at 07:30 that as per the forecasts the cloud would break and by 10:00 we'd be in nigh on unbroken sunshine, so aimed to meet-up at 08:30.

On the way up twas evident that the weather was not clearing so our Spring snow was off the menu, so we decided on skiing the cold snow down as far as it was possible, and we were pleasantly surprised, again, and untracked more or less for 500m of the 1,100m vetical.

With the flat-light the orange of the sand really stood out more, we think as there was no reflection going on?



And meanwhile on the North facing side Cool



Two guys that came with me are very good skiers, and being the camera-man sort of regretted saying buzz me Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/RP-TgnadLeE

Maybe tomorrow back-up there again if the sun makes an appearance, that will be four nigh on 1,200m consecutive days, like a hut to hut!

https://www.strava.com/activities/4882546649
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Hmmm,

I'm going cycling!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Day four up in the playground and more of the same, this time with @KenX, and the dogs.



As the dogs featured in the video and photos there's a separate thread about their "ordeal" today Laughing

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4749133#4749133

https://www.strava.com/activities/4888498804
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Cycled up to the Lautaret yesterday and the Combeynot face was looking rather enticing, spoke to some Frenchies who had ski-toured next to it, Laurichard, and they were nigh on having orgasms over how great it had been.

Now over the years, I've got to know that someone's "Superb" "Excellent" when on holiday might not be an accurate description, that said I did think that if I awoke to decent weather would be worth a "punt" Laughing

Took this yesterday about 13:30



And this morning started off with hardly a cloud in the sky, so quick decision made.

Driving up there I was quite encouraged at the lack of traffic compared to yesterday, though once at the Col it was busy!

And a lot more tracks than yesterday but still a fair amount of untracked.

Climb up was very far tougher than usual with around 5cm of windblown on an icy hard packed track that was really hard going, if I'd known it going to be like that I would have packed crampons.

In fact when we eventually came up on the plateau there were a couple of other groups in front of us who had taken a different route which I didn't know you could, and must have been a lot easier as we saw a group of Brit split-borders maybe on a course, being taken the same way which was just as well as there's no way they could have made it up the way we went!

The cloud started to fill in and we made the call to transition as we were there for the skiing as opposed to getting to the summit, but the other groups had given up on that idea too.

So was a bit of a race to get to ski the best line and have to admit to getting into a "take no prisoners mindset" leaving two groups of Frenchies in our wake.

And as you'll hear/see in the video was circa 10-15cm on hardpack.







Now the young dude I was skiing with let rip lower down as he wanted to get speed to avoid the little hike out, and I missed that actual moment, but when I looked again I could see one ski well away from him and his airbag released.

In the flat light he'd hit a dip and went flying, big wipe-out ending up catching his trigger and bang Laughing



Intsa One-Min vid


http://youtube.com/v/nY-NqdnOfiI
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I can see form the pics that the snow looks wet and heavy, but thanks for pictures they help to soften the blow of no ski holiday this year Crying or Very sad
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Some pics from today, climbing up we suspected the cold snow of last week we enjoyed might be shagged by recent winds as there was a hard crust where previously had been good cold snow.

Tried to be optimistic and kept taking a look but alas crust, and even though it looked good we saw one skier coming down from a ridge that was our target for today and you could tell by his turns, traversing and his tracks that the snow was technical to ski at best.

Plus for some obscure reason (maybe going up to the lift to pack things up) they had groomed a mini piste for us so why not ski that for a change as it was untracked Laughing



To my left is where we were thinking of heading, and you can just about make out the tracks that we saw the skier put in.



We did however have the Spring snow option to ski, and we were not disappointed.



And then some fisheye imagery and that pitch was rather lush Cool



https://www.strava.com/activities/4922995451
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Really some of these should go in the Wallie's thread as DPS and Elevenate feature heavily Laughing

Picked up OH from Nice yesterday after 72 days of being apart and en route back picked up her DPS Pagoda Tour 171 Skis @ 106 mounted with Xenics, mounted by @KenX, and a very very light set-up, though in a blind-fold test in the kitchen later-on was a close call as to whether she thought her DPS or my SG 105's were the lightest, not bad considering the extra length of my SG's!

Weather this morning was quite grim with strong winds, though did ease and a dusting of the white-stuff, though she was slightly adamant not to do proper touring as she was "isolating" a dog walk touring up the piste for a short distance was allowed if only to test the gear, and I was cool with that just having had my Atomic's Hawk Ultra XTD 120's blown out on the ankle bones some more.

Anyway what was only going to be up the nursery slopes ended up in a 600m skin up to 2,000m and ended up a bit of an Elevenate Fashion shoot Laughing













PS hope you spotted I was not using a back-pack as OH was using her new shorter Scott E1 (minus the system) pack so she could carry the gear as required Laughing
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Weathercam, you’re splashing the cash! What’s Elaine’s verdict on those heinously expensive new planks???
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
BobinCH wrote:
@Weathercam, you’re splashing the cash! What’s Elaine’s verdict on those heinously expensive new planks???


Way too early to tell yet based on the one sortie which was more or less on the piste, did I mention the uber lightweight DPS skins and that they have Phantom wax too?

And in case you missed it.

Line of the season yesterday, and Wipe-Out of the season Laughing

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=155279




snow report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
One of the main reasons I have not been skiing on the local hill this year is because the local hospital has been packed with people with covid. Whilst I am confident I would not get in any trouble as I take few big risks, there is always the chance that something can occur which would bring out mountain rescue and accident and emergency just at a time when the hospitals are packed.

The area where I am in (and especially the hospital location) remains at one of the highest prevelance in the UK. Nurses and doctors are having long periods of off time due to this pandemic effects on their health, and I am not sure the substitutions will be working in the best conditions. Consequently, best to avoid the remotest possibility in my opinion.
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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?
Opted again to stay in the resort again as did a ski-tour with the Mrs and dogs a few days ago and saw some lines with our name on it Cool

Long climb but as you'll see the rewards were rather lush.

Really ironic in that we're getting great conditions in resort inbounds whilst all the classic ski-touring sectors we'd usually be doing are getting nuked by visitors Toofy Grin

You'll see that there is still so much terrain we can ski, if temps stay cold.


http://youtube.com/v/QyGOiYp03Oo
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Went looking for cold snow yesterday and ending up skiing a Spring-snow porridge.

Twas a very long tough hike up to 2,800m and amazing how tired I got with that extra altitude as we've not been climbing that high this season, we were both tired.

Stopped at the top of the old glacier, 350m below the drop in to Combe de Riou, where some purges had been happening, then as we were standing there one came down, and we looked at it thinking nothing of it and then it gathered pace we tried to quickly evacuate which was not that easy mid-transition with everything all out of the pack on the snow, as it happened it stopped where all the others had, but for a few seconds we both thought ooooopps.







Climbing up thought we'd be in for a bad descent but the snow had transformed and was actually surprisingly good, though my legs were screaming.

Think trying to beast the snapper is taking a toll on my body Laughing

Pace was quite quick https://www.strava.com/activities/4995545302

Now out for a leisurely stroll with the OH and the dogs Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yesterday we went to one of our favourite areas and it was mobbed, instead of 5-10 cars must have been 50 or more.

Thankfully mostly XC and snow-shoers. It's a long approach and skating along a plateau for 2.5km to get to the start of the climb, and it was nigh on totally tracked out as we climbed up Mad

Usually, they'd be a couple of other tracks, I was actually getting quite depressed about it all, however, I started to see more areas of untracked snow coming into view every now and again being hidden behind blind summits, so we changed direction away from the main route and started circumnavigating our way around some ridges and indeed the terrain looked way better!

Great thing as I think I've mentioned before vast majority of Frenchie ski tourers stick to the main ski-tour route up and then ski it back down.

What we actually ended up doing was climb up to the Frontier and then ski along it for a while, you can see that on the map.
https://www.strava.com/activities/5002214669



And spot Les Chiens Laughing





http://youtube.com/v/wVphVAyylSM
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Woke up to a couple of cms of fresh at altitude and my phoned pinged later and twas a keen excited snapper.

I actually was none too bothered about a sortie as legs were tired though I was curious and wanted to take a look up Lautaret way with a view to touring Monday onwards, so I agreed to pick him up starting a lot later (10:30) than we usually do.

A fair number of cars at all the parkings being a weekend and as I turned the bend that gives you a view of the Combeynot, which was one of our options I was horrified by what I saw!

You can make out all the people, the dots!

And it was the same in the Laurichard sector, can only think it was a CAF excursion from Grenoble again?



I decided on the Trois-Évêchés sector as maybe that would give us a better chance to escape the Lyonnais Grenoblois hordes, but we had cloud to deal with as well up there.

As we were climbing up the North face was quite enticing but maybe more wind affected, what with the cloud and snow-pack think we changed our options/directions two or three times.

There were three or four groups up there but they were all concentrating on reaching the summit and or having a picnic, so we opted for a nice line and grabbed some lush turns, whilst the cloud tickled the ridge we were in sunshine.


http://youtube.com/v/W3PlgYDwFKc

Going back up there this morning, though hope it's not even more busy and this is our target, La Pare, and that's La Meije on the right in the far off distance.

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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Been out to the area above the last two days getting some lovely skiing, untracked, as the area is so vast.

That said more people are in this sector than we've ever seen before.

Yesterday we opted to climb up to a ridge along from Pic Blanc Galibier at 2,960m.

Once up on the ridge you could drop off and ski a North face and there was still great swathes of untracked powder to ski, but then you have to climb back up or have other logistics in place. That said we saw one guy climbing up on his own and when he arrived he must have easily been in his mid 70's. He'd climbed up and over the classic Trois-Évêchés ridge at 3,100m and skied down 600-700m to then climb back up, so he was on for at least a 1,750m day!

We played with the aspect all the way skiing beautiful spring snow, when it's like that it's as good as powder!





And video with the snapper ripping Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/Hplwqja0HTk

https://www.strava.com/activities/5030471232

Back up there again this morning with the dogs but coaxing another gent up in his 70's so not too sure how far we'll get!
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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!
Yesterday was maybe the last hurrah of this season, as it was the last day that we could drive up to the Lautaret as we are now in lock-down and limited to 10km.

For sure I could ski-tour up what is left of the piste in front of me, and I'm sure it will come to that as my legs start twitching, but now there are bare patches on N facing slopes and as for the South facing slopes they are akin to the middle of May!

And the forecast keeps giving and then taking away. I've never quite known a drought like this past three months!

Yesterday I went back up the same ridge with the snapper, having been up in that sector a couple more times in the week, and we had to wait half an hour for the snow to cook some more and we were blessed with classic Spring snow on that face though lower down was really rutted with the melt.

Don't know whether this was an Easter Bunny or Huskey - that's actually a really steep slope up to the ridge rolling eyes





The snapper ripping lowing down, you can just about make out how the snow is slightly rutted from the melt


And the ubiquitous 360 video


http://youtube.com/v/1xqiurUSw6E

Lower down as we traverse the Galibier road came across this which had come down since we were last up there, it's the same point which went a couple of months ago and so nearly caught a snow-kiter.



On the way down we hooked up with this guy who asked if we could give him a lift afterwards back down to the valley. He was really friendly pointing out to the snapper various gnarly couloir routes etc

Nearer to his home in Le Casset (second home as he lives in Grenoble), just outside Monetier, I asked him about a forest I've often thought about exploring as this time of year with the snow and no needles on the trees etc you can see a few paths winding their way up in the forest as I explained to him a couple of our other storm riding routes close by with the same terrain and aspect are now getting more popular, he laughed as he said "yes" that's an area that he and his mates that live in Le Casset call the Secret Attic snowHead

So I know where I'll be heading on the first dump of next season!

And as we call it a wrap here, I looked at my stats, and since January 1st I've clocked up 44 sorties and climbed 40k

So out on the bike, this morning and I'll ride as far as I can up the Granon as that's within my 10km radius.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
We did have a fair bit of snow forecast for last weekend but as has been the theme these past three months it failed to deliver, well this time around we did get the precipitation but not the cold temps, so the snow-line was circa 1,850m.

I went on my own Monday and it was classic Janvril conditions, I took a chance and drove up the trail opposite me and parked up at 1,500m in what very much looked like winter, three and half hours later when I returned I saw I could have driven up another 200m vertical and it was positively Spring time!

I think my climb was the toughest of the whole season, breaking trail in heavy deep wet snow that amassed on top of my skis and every 50 or so strides I had to clear the snow off, and then as I feared, as I gained altitude so it was colder and then my skins started freezing up so not only was I carrying snow on top I now had snow stuck on the skins.

It was so bad I only climbed for circa 800m plus the wind was howling big time.

Before


After


I did score some sweet turns in the Janvril snow at 2,200


Then yesterday went with the OH and we parked higher up the trail at 1,700m and as we climbed up I saw that I could have driven to 1,900m.

This season is so different, obviously with Covid and now confinement, so we can't drive to our usual ski-touring areas and we're left making the most of what's on our doorstep, in a usual season, with the lifts still open we would not be touring in front of us.

Yesterday I only saw a handful of others all heading towards another sector.

As we climbed up the snow-pack was varied to say the least, clumps of windblown powder transported by the gales of the today before, along with 5cm+ crust and slabs, plus there was no logic to where to ski get the best line to ski the best snow-pack, so I knew it was going to be tough.

Wind had been doing its thing.


Our own little sector all to ourselves


And Chez Nous


As we made our way down the OH who being lighter and on her DPS 106 Pagoda tours usually has no issues, was soon in the back-seat and nigh on snow ploughing though think that was more to do with the atrocious snow-pack she found herself on whilst I faired better.

We did score some nice turns and then one pitch did look good so opened the throttle but again it was very technical to ski, and when you looked back at the tracks they always give the game away with obvious tramlines gouged in the snow.

To compound the snow-pack issues the lower down it also became heavier and I was skiing ploughing out deep furrows.

In a masochistic way I do sort of enjoy the challenge and I was skiing hard n'fast whilst the OH was having to stop with tired back-seat legs, something she never does.

But in the end, my cockiness got the better of me and I felt a little strain to one knee as I managed to self rescue as the skis decided to torpedo and go their own way which I captured with the GoPro 360.

And on closer examination you can see the state of my tracks Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/9gxAPSe2jTk

Knee last night not swollen but a definite ache this morning and now wearing a light brace so a few days "Offski".

Then might drive up and do another tour if we get the right conditions as have to work out if that N/NW facing snow will transform and what time of the afternoon that might be Puzzled
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
After last weekend's storm Queyras is looking amazing Madeye-Smiley

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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Looks like wind blown crust to me Confused
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