Monday, 31 December 2012

White Christmas

Leaving the top telesiege to the Puy St Vincent ski resort we slide to the top of a black ski run called Carmen. But this is not our destination. We kick off the skis and strap them to our rucsacs - our adventure is off the back of the resort......

Mark leads the way, after all this is his backyard (and what a backyard....). We stomp up for a few hundred metres gaining the proper summit of La Pendine.

Late afternoon on Boxing day 2012 - Mark approaching top of La Pendine

Fellow skiers approaching the summit of La Pendine (taken two days later to the above)
The day is sunny and clear with glorious views of the mountains all around. We stop to admire before clipping back into the skis. Mark had already been this way today and knew conditions were good. Just as well as the Col we needed to gain was still over half a km along the ridge either side of which are cliffs and rock bands. Not somewhere to get your ski turns wrong.

Skis on we follow the side of the ridge following the tracks made by Mark and a few others earlier in the day. A few easy turns are needed but they feel alot harder knowing that error is to be avoided! We slither between a few rocks and a bit of side stepping up is needed before the final section to the Col du Bal is reached.

Mark on the ridge line looking to the end of the Narreyroux Valley
At the col I look down. The initial snow head-wall looks pretty steep! Fortunately its only the first move that's the hardest. As we ready for our descent we are joined by two fellow Brits, both of whom are friends of Mark.

Looking back along the ridge form the Col
I leave the Col following Mark, sliding to the right and avoiding the rocks. The first turn is made on an easing of the slope and its off! The snow is superb and a few good warm up turns are made, before stopping to take in the atmosphere and the terrain we're in.

Leaving the Col

Enjoying great snow!

The descent into the Narreyroux valley continues with whoops of joy as the four of us making fresh tracks all the way. Powder turns are made all the way into the valley floor, and its only when we reach the bottom track do the snow conditions deteriorate.

Mark on the descent (taken two days later after some more fresh snow)

Making tracks in the powder...... we start to approach the tree line.
All that remained now was to skitter back to the cars and a celebratory beer for a fine trip! This proved entertaining in its own right. The valley track was frozen solid and uneven - a right old knee bashing on the skis.

Descending back to the ski station in the last light of the day.
Two days later we both went for it again. Some fresh snow and the snow pack looking stable then it had to be done again! Conditions had changed on the ridgeline and we left the ridge before reaching the actual col. The descent was again superb and fortunately the bottom ski out was much nicer with the fresh snow. A real treat to have such good back country conditions over the christmas period.

Leaving the ridge on the second run two days later. A few more skiers around this time!

The route in blue.

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