Thursday, March 1, 2012

Really nice introduction to the Swiss backcountry!!

It finally didn't snow much overnight.

The lack of overnight snow made us change our plan. After spending countless hours to see the backcountry opportunities in a radius of about 150km, my dad came up with a place he has seen in his previous travel around the area! Thanks Dad, but I would have taken your recommendation a few hours ago….!

We packed everything back in the car and head towards the Col de la Forclaz. This pass is located a few kilometres south of Martigny, CH and separate Switzerland from France. 

View Switzerland in a larger map

As we got there, the sun was high and shinning and there wasn't any trace of a recent storm. The skin track was fairly packed and wasn't hard at all to follow. As we climbed, I was fairly impress about the quantity of ski tracks around the skintrack. I started complaining (and didn't stopped until we get to the top) that it was probably the most tracked out backcountry place I've ever been! 

Really, THANKS Dad for your nice recommendation!!

As we got closer to the top, there was certainly way less tracks. We scouted a nice skiing face that was only 30m to traverse to and whichthat was totally untracked! It seems that most of the people that has made the trip up has skied down close to the skintrack not to get lost!

We finally took our skins off to find some really nice and dry powder all the way down and we skied straight back to the car. 

As we were taking a cold beer out in the sun, a bunch of 4 chamois came fairly close. 

Nice introduction to the Swiss backcountry!

Even if the snow was not deep, we figured it was good enough to say around for at least one more day. We finally made our mind to climb towards the Cabane Brunet which is located only 1000m (or 700m depending where you park, in our case, we didn't know the best place to park….) from the town of Lourtier, CH. 

The skin up is probably the easiest I've ever taken. It gently climbs up and the first thing you know is that you are standing next to the Cabane on a ridge with a terrific view of Verbier. 

We keep on climbing for a few hundreds meter to get to some really nice and untracked terrain. Again, it seems that most of the backcountry fellows are making their way down following the skintrack. We finally hit an untracked area without any problem despite the thousands of fellows or so that have made their way up to the Cabane Brunet before us!

Finally, it seems really easy to find some good stomping ground since the majority of the skiers are just wiggling next to the skintrack doing (really) short radius turns!

We again, had a blast skiing on top of some cold and steady powder. I guess I'm getting a bit more use not to get faceshots every turns. The snow is maybe not deep, but certainly really nice and smooth. 

The blue sky and the warm weather make me forget about freezing myself sleeping in a cooking shelter in Revelstoke!

To keep on going on our backcountry strike around the Alps Valaisannes, we aimed to the Col du Grand St-Bernard which is quite a classic around this area. We quickly understood that we wouldn't be the only one around there since the parking was already quite full at 8h30AM!

We followed the countless day tripper who, like us, were making there way up towards the Hospice du Grand St-Bernard. Don't worry, I didn't left my Dad at the Hospice.

As we were making our way up, the skiing really didn't looked interesting. On both side of the valley we were climbing was laying some really wind hammered snow. 

After a vertical climb of about 500m (and probably 5km of horizontal hiking) we finally got to the Hospice that used to train and give the reputation of the St-Bernard dogs as good mountain rescue dogs. 

We kept going pass the hospice and climb back on the italian side under a really harsh sun. 

On the way up, my dad never stopped complaining about how the snow was going to be shitty and how warm it was and so on….

I finally managed to have him climbed all the way up to the top of the mountain. The view was certainly stunning and he finally had to agree that he was glad to have made the climb since it was such a beautiful day. 

He finally had to agree that there was some much than expected snow on the way down!

I feel like this area is not what I would qualify as a great backcountry spot since you lose about 500m of vertical just traversing back to the car and it certainly doesn't hold the snow as much as some other area that we have previously visited. 
There wasn't calling for some better weather for the following day, so we thought it would be a great day to give a try to a resort. We headed towards Nendaz, which I've never heard before. 

Actually, Nendaz sits in the middle of the skiing complex called the 4 Vallées who consists of Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. It now hadn't snow significantly for about 7 days and the conditions inbounds certainly were reflecting this lack of new fresh snow. 

We nevertheless toured around the resort and aimed for the shelter north facing slopes and found some ( ok, it was packed) nice powder. After exploring the resort, we finally has made a plan for our next skiing day. Just next from the top lift at the Mont Fort standing at 3330m we had a sneak peek at some untracked slopes that certainly pleased us!

I 'm pretty sure we have a plan for tomorrow!!!

Stay tuned!

No comments: