While we work very hard here at Facewest we do need time to recharge our batteries and I have just returned from a five week ski trip in France. I managed to pack the time with some great backcountry and ski-touring routes and I was lucky with snowfalls for most of the trip.
I was based in Meribel, an area I know quite well so I spent the first few days skiing some old favourite lines including the Tougnete Bowl, Cote Brun and the intineries down to Raffort and les Allues. There had been some good snowfalls the day before I arrived so I didn’t really get chance to find my legs. This was followed by a period of relatively warm weather with little snowfall resulting in a well consolidated snowpack which allowed me to ski some newer routes in mixed snow conditions. Some days we skied in the full spectrum of snow from windblown hard pack to crust to spring(ish) snow to powder. New routes skied during this time included the Canyon, running down from the Petit Saulire to the Plan de Tueda, an excellent, sustained face round the back of Mont Vallon and some new lines in between the Col de la Loze and the Dents de Burgin.
On the ski-touring front I warmed up with some training on familar routes such as the Borgne and Gebroulaz glaciers before doing a couple of routes I’ve been keen to do for a long time. The Face-Ouest de Peclet in Val Thorens provided the inspiration for the naming of Facewest many years ago so I was glad to finally complete this route after a few attempts spoiled by weather in the past. The face was not in great condition but both the climb and ski-down were enjoyable and I’d love to go back and ski it with better snow. In my final week I drove over to Champagny le Haut, heading for the Grand Bec via the Plan des Gouilles refuge. We only just found the refuge in the dark and fog after a 2 hour climb through a forest but the next day the weather improved and we reached the top after a further 4 hours. The snow conditions were mixed for the ski down but it was a great little trip and probably the highlight of the whole five weeks.