Sunday 23 November 2014

Trou de la Mouche, Les Aravis

According to the weather reports, which are forecasting sun for the foreseeable future, it seems that this early snow we've had has been little more than a false start to winter. Before all the white stuff disappeared, I was keen to sneak in one more day on the skis.

Verbier seemed a decent idea but we were sure it would be super busy and with off piste options limited, it seemed like a lot of effort and driving just to ski crowded pistes. Eventually we opted to head over to the Aravis for some touring above La Clusaz. The snow tends to linger at relatively low altitudes over there and the terrain is excellent so it seemed as good an option as any we could think of. Of all the many possible tours, the Trou de la Mouche ("the hole of the fly") seemed the best, mainly because skiing through a hole has got to be cool, regardless of the snow conditions. We ended up not rushing to the start and only managed to start skinning at midday but that seemed like just enough time, and so it proved.

Sharon skinning up towards the Trou.

Passing underneath some impressive cliffs higher up.

Sharon nearing the end of the skin, with the Trou behind.

Me slightly higher, enjoying the sun and the solitude.

Sharon on the beautiful final ridge, with Mont Blanc reigning supreme behind.

Me bootpacking to the Trou.

The skin up went fine but for the last few hundred metres the snow was awful and we ended up with huge amounts of snow sticking to our skins, making it really hard going. Initially we cleared the skins every few steps but in the end it just seemed easier to try a bit harder and plough on.

Suffice to say we were glad to reach the top...

The view through the Trou.

The snow we'd passed through on the way up was almost universally bad so we weren't too optimistic about the ski down but it actually turned out to be pretty good - a nice combination of powder and slush followed by some tough crust lower down.

Sharon in the slush.

Me loving the low angled powder.

After making good time in the upper section, the crusty, thin snow slowed us down as we got lower and we eventually gave up and walked down the last 100 vertical metres.

On the plus side, we got treated to this view whilst walking - 

Having been held up on the final section of the skin and then the last bit of the ski, we just sneaked back to the car before sunset. That burger tasted SO good back in Chamonix!

See you again soon, winter.