Global warming?

16 December 2010

We had a great day today even though it was minus21C when we arrived at the bottom of Val Claret around 9:30. Chris and I took our teams for the first Sachette of the season, and besides pretty good snow the ambience was terrific. It wasn’t straight forward getting across from the first Col where a slab had ripped out the snow down to a slippery sliding surface mixed with rocks. (Same spot that slid on Geoff and Inga one Christmas day many years ago) To avoid the mess and stay safe we needed to cut underneath then ‘skin’ up to the entrance for the Sachette where we had to negotiate the traverse above the couloir. The couloir had also slid but fortunately there was still some soft snow and it was fairly easy to get across. From there the first half of the bowl had purged itself, which made for a safe traverse to some strips of really good soft snow, followed by some supporting snow in the gully (skiers-right back towards the couloirs) where it had slid as well, then to the bottom on a spring-like surface. It was a cracking good ’travelling safely in the mountains’ sortie mixed with some excellent skiing. Andreas skied with Nick T and his 14-year-old son Ben, and young Ben skied himself into a ‘skier of the morning’ award. Bravo Ben!

In all my years here I’ve never seen so much natural purging of the mountain, and signs of avalanche rubble are everywhere. The conditions were delicate before the rain and it just shows how dangerous the snow pack was with the natural slides that are everywhere. This rain has done us a power of good and the mountain is now ready for some more snow, which may happen tonight. Speaking of slides the soldier taken in the Sassiere has died and the skier in the Couloir des Pisteur remains in a induced coma.

PS The forecast is for 30cm’s tonight and more snow throughout tomorrow morning. Yahoo!

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