Friday 23 March 2012

Mont de Grange, Chablais.

Looking to get out of the Valley for a day of touring, Peter and I decided on a whim to go and check out Mont de Grange (2432m) in the Chablais region. I'd been to try and ski the most famous run off the peak (the Pertuis Couloir) a few years back but got beaten back by bad weather, and had always been keen for a return. We were optimistic that the Pertuis would be good, but were happy to ski whichever line looked best.

The peak is accessed from the tiny ski area of Chapelle d'Abondance, part of the Portes du Soleil group of resorts, and inolves a chairlift and a ski tow which gain you 600 metres - always worth having. From the top of the drag you can skin directly towards the peak, or do what we did and take a more scenic option of heading up onto the NW ridge and following that all the way. Although slightly longer, the ridge takes in some awesome views, and still only involves 800m of ascent. 

Peaceful forests on the way up

The snowpack is melting fast in the Chablais so we were forced to take our skis off a couple of times due to lack of snow, but otherwise the skin up is incredibly aesthetic and pretty straightforward. The final climb to the summit is an unavoidable bootpack, but it should be easier now that I've put the track in! Most people seem to ski from where it's not possible to skin anymore, but it seemed a shame not to bag the top.  

Me skinning on the ridge. Pic Peter Riley.

 Looking up the ridge at the summit

Peter coming up the ridge

The summit from just below where we started bootpacking. The Pertuis Coulior is the line running down from the summit itself, and our line is the obvious gully from the col just right of the summit.

Views across to the Mont Blanc Massif from the summit.

Looking back at the ridge we'd just climbed.

You really do ski from the summit on this one! Pic Peter Riley.

I think Peter has found his next ski objective, hehe.

On the way up we'd seen that there were plenty of rocks showing in the Pertuis, and the snow looked pretty rubbish, so we decided to the ski the "Petit Pertuis", a wider, friendlier option with much better snow cover. The angle at the top is about 35 degrees, and this gradually mellows all the way until you reach the forests and finally the blue runs of the ski area. We enjoyed a combination of powder and spring snow, and generally had a very enjoyable time with no sign of anyone else on the mountain.  

Looking down our descent.

Peter loving the spring snow.

Me loving the powder. Pic Peter Riley.

My tracks on the lower section, with Peter just visible near the top of the bowl.

Me nearly back at the ski area, with Mont de Grange behind to the left. Pic Peter Riley.

The Chablais is definitely one of those areas which you never hear much about, but it clearly has a huge amount of hidden gems such as this. Add yet another load of ideas to the to-do list!