/ Ecrins ice conditions

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Simon4 - on 14 Dec 2012
For those with a trip to France in prospect.

There was a HUGE amount of snow, and the French alps were very cold. But the same thaw as in Britain has now struck, and it has been very dramatic (-10 at 450m to +5). Some routes are present and more are forming in La Grave, but watch the amount of snow above the North (South-facing) side of the valley - both avalanche danger and spindrift unpleasantness). Snow supposed to be falling all day in La Grave today, continues (less heavily) for a day or 2. Then supposed to slowly get colder.

Further to the East is PROBABLY better, will know in a few days. The thaw has temporarily ruined anything lower than La Grave, but in the long run should encourage route formation, if the predicted re-freeze happens.

Was some very good skiing/ski-touring conditions PROVIDED you could avoid avalanche risk.
John W - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:

Thanks for the info - heading out on the 21st, so all info is much appreciated.

Cheers, JW
Simon4 - on 21 Dec 2012
Just to follow up, there was huge quantities of fresh snow in most places, though Ceillac temperatures were on occasion pleasantly low (-11 one day when we arrived at about 8:30 am). Despite this, routes in Ceillac are only just about in, Y gully has a few ice-steps but is substantially swamped, while Formes de Chaos is still bathed in gushing water and has major gaps. It looks as though Sombre Heros is viable, indeed we saw a party abbing off after apparently climbing it 2 days ago.

In La Grave yesterday Pylone was climbable, which we did. The route was solid but the temperature was disconcertingly warm, so stay well away from anything with a substantial snow-slope above it. This includes most things on the South-facing side, my partner saw a large avalanche sweep one area.

The weather returning to Lyon last night was dire, sheeting rain and dense fog at anything above 350 m, also not very cold. The only good thing about it was that it may shift some of the fresh snow and lead to subsequent transformation IF (and it is a large if), it subseqently gets cold.

Skiing over the Col du Lauteret was very good 2 days ago, but any non-piste skiing (i.e. touring), needs to be chosen very judiciously with regard to avalanche risk.

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