We left Chamonix on Monday evening and headed over to Germany, via Switzerland, to visit our friends in the very small village of Todtmoos-Au in the Black Forest. More “New Year in Germany”
We thought another half day on the piste before going for a touring adventure would be a good idea, so we decided to go to Les Houches on Boxing Day.
We like Les Houches because it’s a bit quieter and there’s fun to be had through the trees.
We messed around on the piste, practicing some fast turns and stopping for lunch in the sun. Then we headed for the trees.
Aiguillette des Houches
The next day, we decided to go for a tour from Le Brevent to the Aiguillette des Houches, and then ski down to Les Houches railway station. It’s not often you can do this because you need snow down to the valley.
The tour looked easy enough. The lifts give you most of the height gain, then for a mere 200m up, you get 1350m of descent.
The lifts were very busy, and I was reminded that post Christmas day, the slopes in Chamonix are very crowded. I was very pleased to leave the crowds behind as we exited at Le Brevent.
The skiing wasn’t difficult, but my touring legs have gone on holiday. I found the going quite tough on the down hill towards the Lac du Brevent, especially when an invisible rock caught my skis and I almost went flying. Yikes! Another big scratch on the bottom.
The sun was hot, so I was glad that much of the ascent (the bit I find the easiest) was in the shade.
By the time we started the descent, the snow was very heavy and turns were very hard as the skis sank into the snow. With the weight having to be at the back to keep the skis from digging in, there seemed very little control and thigh muscles were burning. I could see that this would be a superb descent, if we had made it there first thing before the snow had time to warm up.
Eventually we made it to the tree line, at which point we met lots of people snow shoeing. I was so knackered I could’t follow Pete into the trees, so instead I took my skis off and started to walk down the snow shoe path. This was a lot quicker for me, the alternative being crashing constantly into trees.
Pete and I eventually met up again at Les Houches railway station about an hour or so later. Pete had also taken his skis off about ten minutes after me, but we ended up following different paths down. We were so relieved we had both made it to the station within 10 minutes of each other (we had failed to state a rendezvous spot in case we got split up) that we didn’t mind that it was dark and that we’d just missed a train and we had an hour to wait for the next. Luckily we had Christmas cake and a flask of tea to keep us going.
Call us crazy, but, in an attempt to grab “just one more ice climb” before the rock climbing season really kicks in (and making full use of cheap Easy-Jet flights to Geneva) we headed for Switzerland! The main objective was to climb a classic ice route of the area, Dar at the Col Du Pillion. Unfortunately for us, the avalanche danger was extreme – deep snow with a heavy rain over the past few days. We snow-shoed to the base and watched (from a safe distance) lots of slides from the cliffs surrounding the route. With a good freeze the route would still be great, but not this day!