Jonny teamed up with Dave Hollinger to lead our Grand Combin Ski Tour on the 17 April, and judging by the feedback it went down pretty well! Report in from Dave, thanks guys.
Day 1 – to Cabane Brunet: a high snow level meant a short hike up through early spring meadows and alpages before skinning the rest of the way to a wonderfully situated hut, above which conditions looked superb. PM spent doing some transceiver practise and a bit of skinning to survey the terrain.
Day 2 – Mt Rogneux: daylight start allowed a pleasant skin up through complex terrain to gain the final snow crest of Mt Rogneux. The teams skied two of the steeper lines on the north face, enjoying some surprising powder, before another short skin to regain the superb spring slopes leading back to the hut.
Day 3 – Pointe de Boveire: earlier start for the longer skin towards Pointe de Boveire. A short technical ridge provided the interest, some ropework and a good deal of exposure before giving way to a series of steep kickturns edging out over uncompromising rock cliffs. We made the decision to turn around but had the advantage of fresh tracks off the ridge and perfect untracked spring turns all the way back underneath the Petit Combin towards the cabane.
Day 4 – The link day: Over the Col des Avouillons to the Panossiere hut. The south side of the col was bare of snow and required a short hand rail to gain the steep summer path before traversing down onto the glacier and roping up for the skin back up to the hut. PM was spent doing some prussic and crevasse rescue practise.
Day 5 – Tournelon Blanc: Early start and gentle warm-up skin up the glacier before tackling the steep 500m climb up to the Mulets de la Tsessette. More gentle climbing before donning crampons for the final climb, on foot, to the summit.
Day 6 – Petit Combin: The Glacier des Follats had been staring us for the last couple of days and was to provide the main interest of the descent from the summit. The long but gentle skin via the Col de Corbassiere led through some spectacular scenery but, after visiting the summit, it was the untracked line we’d spied from the hut that provided the highlight – with perfect snow from top to bottom. After a quick lunch stop we made the journey down to Fionnay both on skis and foot and a well earned beer.