Sunday, February 27, 2011

Away from the madding crowd!

Half term week is upon us... the valley is a wash with families from the rest of europe taking advantage of their childrens half term holidays and the new snow. Car parks full, lots of traffic, queuing for lifts and crowded pistes. 

What's the answer? an afternoon at Vallorcine doing a little ski de fond. Yes there was traffic en-route and the car park at le Buet was a little busier than normal with skiers visiting the small ski area of La Poya, but the cross country pistes were empty (see the photos for proof).

 The Ski de Fond area at Vallorcine can be reached by taking the road from Chamonix through Argentierre and over the Col du Montet or by train on the Chamonix express (free of charge with a carte d'hote). 
It has 10k of green, blue and red graded pistes, you can park and start at Le Buet (the first village below the Col du Montet) or Vallorcine further down the road. Day passes can be purchased from the Foyer de Fond at Le Buet or Vallorcine for 7.20 euros or 5.70 euros with a carte d'hote (reductions are available for children). 

See Flickr for more photos of 'Ski de Fond in Vallorcine'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tour du Mont Blanc Ski Tour

Tour du Mont Blanc Ski Tour

Winter TMB Ski Tour

Les Houches from above Bel Lachat

We have been thinking of a personal project to undertake this winter, something that can be done in sections as & when we have the time. Although the snow hasn't been great this season the main risk being rock exposure and ice on the plus side the avalanche risk is low with the snow pack being totally consolidated

Being based in the Chamonix valley TMB in winter sounds like a good project. Lots of easily accessible sections close to home, Aiguille Rouges, Le Tour to Trient, Les Houches to Contamines and beyond.

As a starting point we took on the Aiguille Rouges taking the bus up the valley to Le Praz and the telepherique to Flegere. Ok we must confess we did cheat a little and made use of mechanical advantage. Pistes were also used between Flegere and Brevent. 

Brevent 2125m

One at the top of the Brevent 2125m we ducked under the ropes and headed down towards Lac Brevent. The snow was very hard packed and wind affected but the skiis had just been serviced so no real problems.

Picking up the TMB foot path we traverse across towards Tete de Bel Lachat a tricky exposed section and we reach our low point. Skins on we climb up towards Bel Lachat and on to Aiguillette des Houches.

Tete de Bel Lachat

Due to lack of snow on the south facing slopes (which is also avalanche affected when more snow is present) A safer option for our descent took us a down La Vogealle and cutting back across to Pierre Blanche and across to Samoteux and La Flatiere. We organised a pick up from here back to Les Houches.

Pierre Blanche

To be continued.... Next section either Le Tour to Trient or Les Houches to Contamines depending on snow conditions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ski de Fond in the Val Ferret

The weather continues.... bien, bien, bien. Still no snow on the horizon but the other side of the Mont Blanc Massif offers the best there is. We headed through the tunnel again today this time for a whizz up the Val Ferret for a cross country ski. 

The Italian Val Ferret offers 10 kms of easy blue piste with an additional 7 kms of harder black pistes that join in with the main area... cross country ski or ski de fond has the same grading system as down hill skiing... black, red & blue being the easiest. 

We arrived at 10.30am before the sun had reached the valley floor, this made for a cold start so getting a move on was the order of the hour! Within 2 kms we had reached the sun.... instant warmth and the removal of layers! Taking in the additional black loops we headed towards Lavachey... one final ascent before lunch proved the ultimate killer! Hence we arrived at the hotel at tad jaded... picnic, italian coffee and a well earned rest in the sun before heading back.

8 kms to return to Planpinceux including the addition black pistes... we headed back to our start point enjoying fabulous views of Mont Blanc and the Val Veny beyond. Another stunning day in the Val Ferret.

Mont Blanc Treks 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunny Sunday in the Val Ferret

Despite the lack of snow over the past 6 weeks the blue skies have provided us with the most stunning weather for snowshoeing, walking and nordic skiing. With the continued stable sunny weather we headed to the Italian Val Ferret, parked at Entreves and took the Navetta to Planpincieux to start our trek.

We headed along the pedestrian track running along the valley bottom next to the nordic ski piste in just over an hour we were enjoying our first coffee of the day at Lavachey.

Beyond Lavachey we join the road (no vehicular access in winter due to the snow) for a short while and climb up towards Arnurva the head of the Val Ferret, below the Refugio Elna and the Col du Ferret.

A welcome lunch stop in the sun we enjoyed unseasonal temperatures of 11 degrees!

We made our way back to Lavachey via the same route and back along the valley bottom to our start point at Planpincieux. 

What a fabulous day, truly stunning in every way... who needs fresh snow!