Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tete Pelouse, La Clusaz

After a productive work day yesterday I was keen for more of the same again but after an hour in front of the laptop with occasional glimpses out of the window, I knew the game was up and so caved in and went for a tour. What willpower!

I ended up driving to La Clusaz and then on again to the tiny settlement of Les Confins, from where a huge number of good looking tours are accessed. However, in my hurry to get going I'd forgotten both the guidebook and the information I'd printed off from the internet so I was armed only with a French map - a "chocolate teapot" item if ever there was one. 

In the end I kept it simple and decided to head up the Combe du Grand Cret with an open mind, but hoping that I'd be able to find a way over a peak called the Tete Pelouse and  into the Combe de Bella Cha, which looked to have better snow cover low down.

Looking up from my start point. The Combe du Grand Cret Valley is on the left, the Combe de Bella Cha on the right. 

The skin up the Combe was great - a decent track and a perfect temperature for skinning without sweating too much. 

Enjoying the skin.

Once near the top of the Grand Cret there seemed to be all sorts of options but I had no idea if any of them led into the other Valley, so I just drifted rightwards towards the ridge line below -

I was hoping to get to the right-hand col on this photo but ended up too high and instead went to the middle one.

All on my lonesome.

As I got higher and began breaking my own trail I ended up taking my headphones out and just enjoying the solitude. The sun was out (albeit not shining on me), the views amazing and the snow seemed to be getting better and better as I got higher so life was pretty good. 

I eventually ended up re-joining an old skin track just before the col and I was glad of it because I'd done over 1000m of ascent without a break and was feeling pretty tired. Reaching the Col was great though - immense views and best of all a clear route into the Valley I was aiming for.

A flask of juice, leftovers from dinner and some fruitcake - what a lunch. Not a bad spot to eat it either.

So, what to go for?

The cold, north facing snow which was powdery but a bit changeable....

...or the sunny spring snow?

The spring snow! In fact it turned out to be powder, which put a smile on my face.

The descent down the Bella Cha was brilliant - 90% powder, a tiny bit of a crust and just the odd rock for most of the way down. Unfortunately the last few hundred metres was 90% rocks and 10% crust but you can't have everything :)

Looking back at my tracks. The slightly erratic course was due to me trying to stay away from any old tracks - there's no point putting in the effort if you then ski where someone else did.

So, another great early season day. The amount of terrain above Les Confins is mind blowing and some of it looks pretty adventurous to say the least. To quote the former Governor of California, "I'll be back".