Back in Lausanne, I’ve been taking solace in the calm, constancy, and beauty of the European Alps. It is very late winter here and the snow has come and it is time for ski touring. There is no better way to earn and lose potential energy than this sport! It’s hard work, but leads to beautiful views and well-earned sore muscles.
My first tour for this winter was Pic d’Artsinol with Tanya. A climb through the forest from Pralong led us to open snowfields where we were lucky to see three chamois. From the summit there was a nice ski down on hard snow, then a tricky descent through the trees where the snow mostly disappeared and was replaced with either ice-on-a-narrow-path or no-snow-at-all.
|Tanya removing skins at the summit of Pic d’Artsinol (2998 m).|
|Summit view, Pic d’Artsinol.|
|Tanya showing how it’s done, in bad snow conditions.|
Then we went to Saas-Fee with a group of friends and stayed for the weekend. There the weather was cooperative and it dumped snow for most of 24 hours; we skied powder on empty slopes and off-piste the whole day on Sunday. It was pretty epic.
Most recently, Tanya, Georgie, Olivier and I went on a ski tour to Tête de Ferret, which hides behind the Mt Blanc Massif. It’s amazing country in there. We saw two enormous birds, that Tanya spotted as a huge shadow passed over her. They are most likely to have been gypaète barbu (bearded vultures), the largest birds in the Alps! Incidentally, Tanya is by now almost supernaturally informed about alpine wildlife, and is therefore to be believed about such things as bird identification and recognition of paw-prints left in the snow.
|Tanya approaching the summit of Tête Ferret (2714 m), Oliver on the summit.|
|View from the top of Tête Ferret.|
|Summit preparations for the descent.|
The approach to the summit of Tête Ferret was steep, and concerned by the weather we pushed fast, doing kick turns on steep snow. On top a strong wind suddenly blew and it threw ice into our faces as we packed flailing ski skins into bags and strapped on helmets. The descent, though, was wonderful – the skiing was comfortable and the snow was beautiful.