"...il più grande alpinista al mondo è quello che si diverte di più" Alex Lowe

lunedì 6 febbraio 2012

Val Thorens e Alpi della Savoia

Pubblico il report inviato dall'amico e Alpinista del Lambrusco inglese Adam.     Nostro corrispondente all'estero, viaggiatore e alpinista. 

After spending last winter living in the Alps for 5 months and having barely no snow for the enitre season, the one thing on my mind for this trip was the hope for good snow! I had seen on the internet that snow was forecast for the Friday, but as the weather forecasts were notoriously unreliable I didn't set my sights too high.
 On reaching the foothills of the alps, there was a light sprinkling of fresh snow, and by the time we had reached Moutiers, we could see vehicles heading down from the top of the valley covered with snow and nearly all had snow chains fitted – things were looking good!

On arriving in Meribel, we saw the whole area had been covered in over half a meter of fresh powder, and the various snow ploughs and tractors were desperately trying to clear the roads of the snow – finally the snow had arrived in the alps!
I was on the trip as part of TA Adventure Training, with the aim of improving our ski techniques, as well as learning to ski tour. As I had plenty of on-piste experience, my focus was on learning to ski tour. On the first ski day we had our first lesson on fitting the skins to the skis, and learning to use the touring bindings. Our first experience of using the equipment was a small route up along the side of a piste – interesting to use the skins but I wanted to venture off piste onto more remote territory!
The following few days were spent improving our techinique on the piste, and at times venturing slightly into the off piste – the off piste conditions were still excellent, even though it had now been a few days since the last fresh snow.
As part of the training we had to increase our avalanche awareness. I already had some knowledge of avalanches but still had a lot to learn. From the second day we all wore avalanche transceivers, and carried probes and shovels, and were taught how to use them in the event of an avalanche.
One of the interesting aspects of the course was using the avalanche camp, which was available to use in Courchevel. Here, they had a number of dummies buried under the snow, and on turning the system on, the transponders on the dummies would activate. Our task was to pinpoint the dummies using our transceivers, then, when we thought we were over the 'body' we would use our avalanche probes to find their exact location. On tapping on the dummy with the probe three times, the dummy would deactivate. After a little training we managed to find 2 in less than 5 minutes – a respectable time, but I couldn't help thinking that it would be much more difficult in a real situation. Nonetheless, the more training we could get the better.
Our course was to build up to a long uphill traverse, for this we had decided on the Col du Borgne. Unfortunately, the weather closed in a little over the next couple of days, which halted our attempts to ascend the glacier, but eventually the cloud started to clear on the Wednesday afternoon, and waking up on the Thursday morning, we found it to be a beautiful, perfectly clear day.
 As we finally had the weather to attempt the hike up the glacier, we first needed to head across to the Val Thorens area, taking the long gondola up to the top, where we were treated to a perfect view of the surrounding area, including Mont Blanc, and a view of the Les Deux Alpes glacier, almost 50km away.
From there, we skied down into the Val Thorens valley, to catch another gondola to the top of Mont Du Vallon, where we diverted away from the pistes and headed over into Col to started our decent towards the bottom of the glacier. Once at the base of the glacier, we stopped to attach the skins to the skis, and to remove a few layers of clothing, as we had learnt from our previous introduction to traversing uphill that we would soon be very warm!
Skiing up such a large route seemed very daunting at first, but once we got used to walking with the skins on we all fell into a rhythm and it became very enjoyable – the only exceptions to this was when we came to a small feature such as a ridge that would require us to ski downhill for a short distance – not very easy when you have the skins acting as brakes on the skis, and a few of us took small tumbles when attempting to do this!
We continued up the glacier, heading for the gap in the ridge line up ahead as shown on the photo. We stopped occasionally to take photos, have a drink of water and fuel up on Haribo! The ascent took about 2 hours in total, and on reaching the top we were greeted by an amazing view of the surrounding area, with hardly a chairlift or gondola in sight.
Looking down below us we could see our planned decent route – many kilometers of fresh, untouched powder with not another person insight – heaven!
Reaching the bottom we turned round to see our entire route and were very pleased with what we had accomplished, especially considering that just 5 days ago we had never been ski touring before (except for the instructor of course). In total the entire route took around 4 hours and was a very good introduction into ski touring. My conclusion is that I really enjoyed my introduction to ski touring and hope to go again soon – maybe Italy next time – know any good touring routes anyone?!

Avalanche camp 1

Avalanche camp 2

Haribo time-top of the Col

Looking over the other side of the Col from the top

Looking up the Col

Making tracks

Planned route: downhill ski in green, traverse in red

Skiing down into the Col

Team photo

4 commenti:

  1. Hi Adam, good job!!! I hope you can join us next time... maybe next summer somewhere in the Alps or we could organize something in Scotland with your support!

  2. Ciao Adam!!
    per gli ignoranti come me serve il traduttore...qui non si capisce un cavolo...

    1. io guardo sempre e solo le figure

    2. Ciao Francesco! Grazie! Si, spero a ritornare in Italia presto. Sto pensando per scalare monte bianco quest'estate - hai scalato prima?

      Giampaolo - è possible per usare il traduttore di google, non so se è buono, ma certamente e meglio di me - ho dimenticato tutto! Comunque, come va?