Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our first day ski touring

Well we survived it! And I'm glad to say, the rope, shovels and beepers were not required.

We spent 4 hours out on a private off piste lesson with Alpine Experience, and greatly enjoyed it. Interestingly our guide, Andreas, took us out over the Col Pers towards the Gorges de Malpasset valley, which is the one run we did several years ago when we had a guide for a day here. (Although this year the gorge itself has insufficient snow to ski through). It was quite a different experience this time though, partly no doubt due to our marginally improved technique and more demonstrably improved fitness, but also because we had skins for the skis to allow us to walk up some slopes as well as ski down, so we could pick and choose the exact slopes to run. Also, being a true private lesson with one guide between the two of us made a real difference, rather than a guide split amongst 6 or 7 of similar abilities, but some skiing and some snow boarding.

Andreas took some photos of us skiing, which I was able to plot on the map using my GPS track. I'm quite proud of this photo, which if you look closely above our heads you can see the neat and tidy tracks we made in the snow. Here's a close up.

Later on in the tour we had to cross over a large avalanche run off that had fired a couple days before; Wayne, another of the guides out today, wrote about a bit about it in his blog for today.

I remembered well the flat run out at the end of the day, fortunately no snow borders needing a tow out of there this time (Nick!) but Emma pointed out this is the start of the road from Fornet that climbs up over the Col De L'Iseren, the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps. With luck, we'll be back here in 4 months cycling over through those very same routes; can't wait to see how it looks in summer.

In all, a great day out, and we got to try ski touring for real which we really enjoyed, and the guide was happy enough to recommend we join up a group trip tomorrow, so another early start!

After all we'd seen, and given the the general conditions in the Alps this spring, we were very keen to make it out to Henry's Avalanche Talk, which was very informative and a good opportunity to meet some more of the Alpine Experience guides too. We also noticed that some of the excellent video footage used in the talk was made by our Audaxing friend Damon Peacock, who was the one who gave us the good recommendation to come to this resort and use this guiding company.