Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dry powder despite the summer-like temperature!!!

As planned, we went back to the 4 Vallées. This time, we parked on the Verbier side to get a faster access to the top of the Mt Fort at 3330m. 
From there, we had a really terrific view of the backcountry that was accessible from the resort. 

There was literally thousands of tracks that were heading to the slackcountry. Even if there was that many tracks, we were not surprised to see most of the skiers hiring a guide even if there wasn't any major on the hazard for this run. The options that required just a little hike cut the number of skier drastically.
The nice visibility pushed us to head towards an area near the Mont Parrain. To get to this area we had to ski on a small ramp that has seen some sun and froze overnight. My Dad said it was one of the sketchiest place he has get himself into. I've certainly seen him skied with more confidence before!
We finally put our skins under a really hard sun. The temperature was well over 0degrees and it was really hot on the way up!
We kept on climbing and finally get to a north facing slope who had some nice and dry powder. Even if it wasn't deep, it was great to be able to get some nice soft turn in such a warm weather! 
We eventually made it to the top of the Rosablanche Glacier to realized we only had about an hour of so left before the lift closed. If we didn't make it in time to the lift in Nendaz to get back to Verbier, we would have about 70km to drive to get to our car! There wasn't any time for some pictures and I kept pushing my Dad to hurry up by telling him that he would have plenty of time to rest on the chairlift!
We eventually made the about 2000m vertical run in time and finally got to Verbier in time. 
We came back for more backcountry since we only scratch the surface of what was laying behind Verbier the following day. As we got closer to the top, we realized that we wouldn't be able to get the visibility we were hoping for. After waiting for about 1h15 for the cloud to burn off, we made the decision to stay inbound. 
The resort was certainly tracked since it hadn't snowed for days, but on the north facing slope the snow was dry and on the south facing, it was some nice warm and soft spring-like conditions. We moved around this big mythical resort and I was certainly impress by some of the lines that has been skied when the conditions were better. 
Hopefully, I will be able to ski it one day in some great powdery conditions! 
We aimed the following day to a smaller family-size resort named Champex-Lac located in a valley nearby Verbier. This small resort only features 2 chairlift and one draglift. For what it lack in infrastructure, it certainly compensate with it's great steep terrain. The run located just under the main chairlift is one of the longest steep fall line I've seen in a while. Since it is not straight north facing, the snow had been warmed and wasn't so good to ski. 
We then made our way to a nearby north facing slope located in the Val d'Arpette valley. We had to climb to about 2500m to find some dry powder since the weather had keep on being over 0 degrees in the past days. You certainly had to believe that it was still possible to find some dry powder higher up and my Dad and I were both surprise about the quality of the snow we found. 
The warm temperature from the past days has released multiple wet avalanche from slopes at all orientations and just a slight difference in the orientation of the slope was enough to make a difference from crust to dry powder.
Since we have stayed around Martigny for about a week, we figured it would be nice to try some new areas (even if there was plenty of terrain we hadn't skied around!) and we left to head towards Simplon Pass. 
Located in between Switzerland and Italy at about 2000m, we thought it might be a great place to give a try. I've also seen couple of tours that were starting from there. It took about 1h15 to get there from Martigny and we were………. really disappointed when we finally got there. 
Most of the snow has been wind hammered and the conditions looked really rock-solid. 

We agreed it wouldn't worth trying to give it a try and we drove to completely changed area and started our drive to leave the Pennine Alps and get to the Bernese Alps (just north from them). 
To get there, we had get the car on a train to travel under the mountain. There is a somewhat car-ferry service that travel from one valley to the other to save some long travel. It was the first time I tried that and it was really nice and cool! The 4-5 hours became a 25minutes train ride for only 20$!!!
As we got to the other valley, it was again very warm and we enjoyed a little snack under what now seemed a nice summer sun!
Hopefully, we are going to be able some nice snow around here. It had (apparently) snowed a tiny bit in the past days. 

We'll see what we can find!
Auf wiedersen

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