Haute Ubaye Powder Touring – 2012 Report

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A quick roundup on the Haute Ubaye ski touring week, where we enjoyed some great powder skiing in the back of beyond with hardly anyone around – meeting just two other groups of ski tourers all week.

Sunday morning didn’t start too auspiciously, when another group leaving the hotel in La Grave walked off with my bags by mistake (think maps, guidebooks, all my planning,  computer, passport – the lot..)  Luckily we had another map so were able to set off anyway, reaching the Gite after a long snowy drive to enjoy a half day tour right from the door, with some lovely powder turns down through the woods.  That evening, the compulsory food overload began, with our host urging us to finish every last bit of a massive meal – pointing out we’d need it for the week ahead..

Next day was overcast, so we skied from the Gite again up to the Col Sans Nom, with lunch and a transceiver training session en route.  Above the tree line the snow was very variable and wind affected, so tricky to ski in flat light, but lovely again down in the trees – so the message was clear – don’t go too far above the woods!

Overnight it started to snow, so a low vis ascent of L’Aiguillon ensued – followed by brilliant deep powder skiing down through the woods a 1000m to the valley floor.  Then it was just a case of skinning back up to the Gite in the afternoon – ready for hot chocolate, beer and more mountains of food.

After the previous days snowfall we decided on a lift assisted day over at St Anne – skiing fresh tracks and deep powder all day under full blue skies.  You never get this much fresh snow in a big resort, so we were able to enjoy it to the very last run.

With temperatures dropping to minus 17, the van took longer to start each morning – but next we headed over to Larche for another blue skies day tour with great views up on the Tete de Plat Longe and more lovely powder on the descent.

By now the road up to the Gite had lost some of it’s terror, despite still being covered in snow – but nevertheless we headed part way back to La Grave before turning off to Argentiere Le Besse in order for a long last tour up the Crete Seyche, enjoying unfolding views of the Ecrins and Queyras massifs before the obligatory final 1300m powder run back to the van.  All in all an excellent week, with everything we’d come looking for – solitude, adventure, great food and superb powder skiing.