/ Ski Touring Conditions - Alps

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petesdavies - on 09 Apr 2013
I'm heading out to the Alps in 2 weeks time for a week of touring. I'd be grateful if anyone based in the Alps at the moment or returning from their own spring tours could post any useful reports on current weather and snow conditions.

Maybe heading to The Haute Maurienne or The Vanoise but still flexible at the moment.

Thanks
kenr - on 10 Apr 2013
Well the Vanoise and Maurienne just had a bunch of new snow, so the avalanche hazard is Considerable. But it's likely that will change by the time you arrive.

Generally there's lots of snow still on the ground except at fairly low altitudes.

The big problem this year (and previous years in springtime) has been cloudy weather, which results in bad visibility for skiing, but worse prevents good overnight re-freezes.
Meteo France on its "montagne" pages give forecasts both of the freezing altitude and the cloud cover, so you can use that to guide your choices day by day. Like they are included in this avalanche page for Savoie:
http://france.meteofrance.com/france/MONTAGNE?MONTAGNE_PORTLET.path=montagnebulletinneige%2FDEPT73

In case of lots of days without a good re-freeze, I've had great success using this remarkable French invention called the Autoroute du Soleil (a.k.a. A7 motorway). I have some climbing ropes and protection and harnesses and stuff in my car, so I just drive south to around Marseille and Toulon and enjoy excellent climbing and scrambling and hiking for a few days. Then drive back north when the weather for skiing gets better.

Ken
Morgan Woods - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to kenr: tough life But I guess someone has to do it :p
Erstwhile on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies:
A lot of snow in the Dolomites. Bit unstable still but should be excellent skiing soon.

Tim Davies - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies:

V good snow cover around les contamines for mid April. Just v unsettled weather with a 3-4 risk today. Daytime temperatures shooting up as the air mass changes.

Moist airflow stopping the snow from refereeing and consolidating at the moment.

Avalanche risk 3-4 today.
petesdavies - on 11 Apr 2013
In reply to Tim Davies:

Thanks for the info posted so far.
Pay Attention - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies:

There was a lot of snow mid week in Gran Paradiso area, followed by a cloudy day with a rise in temperature on Thursday.

Saw more avalanches in that one day ascent to the Benevelo hut from Rhemes Notre Dame than in the whole of the rest of my life.

Maybe all will be stabilised by the time you get out there, depending on weather.
MG - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to Pay attention: Just back from that area too. Was at the VS hut on Fri/Sat when the guardian got the latest forcast (3 rising to 4 on Sunday afternoon). He whistled, and the said "we stay at home on Sunday", before telling me, with startling accuracy given the vagueness of weather forecasts in the area, that overnight of Fri would have 10cm of snow, the morning would be excellent skiing and then it would get very windy.
earlsdonwhu - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies:
Just back from Maurienne ( Val d'Isere to Carro to Evettes and Averole huts and back via Bonneval)where we had some of the best powder I have enjoyed in years but also loads of breakable crust and humungous porridge. It snowed q heavily again on Friday night. Unable to get up Albaron due to conditions on Thursday but the previous day would have been feasible ie it is constantly changing. Rain was forecast and if temps. had fallen it would have helped stability but....
temperatures were rising though and our return from Bonneval back to Val d'Isere was tense. Lots of heavily loaded slopes and lots of debris around from full depth slides.
earlsdonwhu - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies: ... and I would reiterate that visibility was pretty poor and nav challenging! I still had a good time and hope things are more stable for you.
petesdavies - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

Thanks for the update. If we end up going to the Maurienne, I'm undecided whether to base ourselves in Val D'isere or Bonneval (we're driving). Any thoughts on pros and cons of each? If we went to Bonneval but still wanted to go to the Prariond Hut before the Caro, is it feasible to ski there from Bonneval via the Col Pers in a day? How far is the road ploughed from Bonneval toward the Col d'Iseran?
earlsdonwhu - on 16 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies: Bonneval is obviously way quieter and cheaper. We had a night in a small gite which you won't get in Val.
As for the road being ploughed...it wasn't at all.Think of over 3 metres in places. Don't expect it to open for many weeks! We skinned straight out of Bonneval ' High Street'. The slopes towards the Col d'Iseran were very dangerous especially beyond half way ( Maison Communale on the map) ..... both above and below the road itself the slopes steepen up lots.
Prariond from Bonneval looks blooming miles with 1200+m of ascent.

A problem can be that it is a huge distance round by road if you can't get back eg from Bonneval to Val or vice versa over the tops!

We did Val ski lifts to Carro, Carro to Evettes via Col des Pariotes, Evettes to Punta Francisetti and back, Evettes to Averole via Glacier Mean Martin and Ecot and bus to La Bessanaise, Averole to about 3250m on Albaron and down to Bonneval, Bonneval to Val via Glacier Ouille Noire.

It goes without saying that conditions can change for better or worse really fast.
Kimberley on 16 Apr 2013
In reply to petesdavies:

Not too sure why you might wish to do that?

Bonneval is imho a better base and this is a good place to stay in town opposite the Pizza place

http://chaletbonnevalsurarc.ffcam.fr
petesdavies - on 17 Apr 2013
In reply to Kimberley:

I'm not sure either! We'll probably head to Bonneval then, unless we decide conditions are better elsewhere. Quite a lot of snow forecast for this weekend but hopefully more settled next week and a little cooler than it has been this week.
happydays on 17 Apr 2013 - 10.59.205.234 [LMontsouris-156-24-21-110.w80-14.abo.wanadoo.fr]
In reply to petesdavies:
Hi Pete,

Been in tignes all season, excellent snow cover, but last week temps have been hot, freezing levels over 3500m, so lots of full depth slides at lower elevations on all aspects,and alot of slides higher up too especially on southern slopes. , due to snow over this coming weekend, then get cooler through next week, but would still be very careful as there will still be very destabilised ground base layers on many lower aspects. Glacial conditions will definitely be improved with good consolidation of snowpack for glacial travel higher up. Bonneval is low down 1800m, and the effort required to get anywhere is alot due to limited uplift. You might get more out of your trip going to val d'isere or tignes, as you can access alot of really good tours which are at a high elevation from herewith alot less effort, and at end of season you can easily find chalets which should offer you cheaper rates, trust me it is really quiet here now. The vamos guide for tours of the vanoise is a really good one to get, the huts in the vanoise/maurienne are really cheap too, I have done lots of tours in the area, if you would like some suggestions. Hope conditions will be good for your trip
petesdavies - on 03 May 2013
In reply to petesdavies:

thanks all for your info. Especially the link to the caf chalet in bonneval. It was a perfect base while we were there. Been back a week so my conditions won't be much help. Lots of snow in h maurienne first weekend meant two days of brilliant powder using lifts at bonneval but abandonned caro evettes averole tour. Went to auguilles d'arves instead (in the cicerone vanoise guide). 3 brilliant day tours and an excellent refuge. Highly recommended.
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Simon4 - on 09 May 2013
In reply to petesdavies: Hi Pete

The snowline in the Ecrins is about 2000m, snow conditions on N facing slopes remain pretty good on the whole but beware of slow-moving, heavy avalanches triggered by the heat low down - though so many have come down, in many places there is not a lot left to fall. Weather is variable, but improving from what it was (which was dire).

Going to have a look at Mont Velan tomorrow, will try to post something about conditions around Cham/Western Switzerland when we get back.

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