Been waiting for a window of opportunity with regard to conditions as last Friday's big avalanche, again showed how delicate the snow-pack can quickly become.
Temps have been cooler along with a cold wind, and overnight, temps at altitude were well below freezing thus securing the snow-pack, at least for where I was planning on going, which was back up in our favourite sector above the Lautaret and below Pic Blanc Galibier.
I was not even sure I'd even get one last tour in before we head back to the UK on Sunday as the weather has not been brilliant, but there did look like a window of opportunity for today, and having cycled up the Galibier road on Saturday on the road bike to the snow-line where the déneigement had reached, which was 2,300m, I knew the road would be cleared further, so my plan was to ride my e-mtb, stash the bike and then out with the skis.
Waking up and looking at the forecasts did not fill me full on confidence, but then looking out the window did, but as I drove up the valley I did have second thoughts as there was a big bank of cloud hovering over Pic Blanc Galibier, but this often happens. In fact, temps were the issue as it was far colder than I expected and the snow was very hard and I was concerned the all-important transformation wouldn't occur.
I stashed the bike exactly where I planned not that I think anyone would be up there, at least out to steal a bike and armed with a portable angle grinder
On the way up four chamois made an appearance and marmots were all over the place, whistling to each other and then very confused when I whistled back.
I climbed up just below one of the ridges from Pic des Trois Évêchés where I'd estimate over 60% of the faces had gone, so I climbed up one area that was still intact (and now more stable) and by the time I'd transitioned the snow was warming up nicely, there was even a couple of cms of fresh atop above 2,600m from the rain of yesterday which made the snow nice n'creamy.
I ride up in my ski-boots and you don't really notice any difference with the e-mtb.
Climbing up alongside the debris
Then skiing back down
Bit lower down nice n'creamy
As I made it down to the bike there was van parked up (you see it on the video) and a guy skied down to it, which was pretty surprising as the road is closed with a barrier. We had a chat and he was extolling how lovely the snow was and I asked him how he'd managed to drive up there, to which he explained that he was a guide and managing the avalanche security for the teams working on the snow clearance (déneigement) of the road, on both sides!