Friday, March 8, 2013

Trient (Switzerland) from the Grandes Autannes (France)

I've been fighting a heinous flue caught on the slopes of Saint Jean d'Aulps five days ago and this is the first day I have enough energy to even blog so this tour is already a week old when its posted.

This was a beautiful cross border tour on a great initiative by Jean Charles of the French Alpine Club, Chamonix chapter. It is a tour that starts from the top of the lift at the “Le Tour” resort well up the Chamonix valley. Off the lift you have a traverse then the skins come on for a short while as it’s soon too steep for skins so now it’s some mixed climbing (crampons required depending on conditions) for a 1,000 feet boot pack. Once at the pass you have an impressive view on a very remote feeling environment with views of a series of Swiss 4’000 m peaks including the Matterhorn. As much as I love nature watching I got to admit the most exciting part of that view to me was to look down a fun and sustained almost 5,000 foot drop all the way down to the village of Trient in Switzerland. The powder was excellent and fast and not a cloud in the sky. In Trient we had a great slow lunch at the “Relais du Mont Blanc” and then took a bus back to Vallorcine where we changed to a bus for Chamoinx.

Topo map: 3560OT Chamonix (French IGN reference) & Swisstopo 282 Martigny
Dominating aspect: N
Starting elevation: 6,900
Highest elevation: 8,800
End elevation: 4,250
Elevation difference: 4,550
Total elevation gain: 1,800, I know; it’s cheating… but this is cheating at its best! Actually we were planning on skinning another 3,000 but we caused two small slides and saw signs of a fair amount of activity around us so we ended up sacrificing the best part of this tour.

Access by car:
Drive through Chamonix and Argentière and continue up to Le Tour, park there and buy a one way (rando) lift ticket.

Trail access:
Tke first the Charamillon gondola then a six pack “de Balme”, get your skis on for a five minute traverse going south. Skins come on and you are now going east then your pretty soon boot packing still east till you make one of the obvious passes above you. Once on the ridge line you will look down into a series of slopes and funnels and it won’t be too hard figuring out “where down is”…

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

After the lift and traverse, the skin track at Le Tour.
From the French side a last view of the Mont Blanc.
After the skin the boot pack.
At the Grandes Autannes first view into Switzerland.
From the Swiss side, view back towards Les Grandes Autannes and the pass.
Fun lines and glaciers all around... well as constant reminders to not get carried away figuratively and non-figuratively...
Seracs of the swiss Glacier des Grands
Approaching the village of Trient
Not so shabby view from our lunch terasse
Very bad group picture with Relais du Mont Blanc in the background
Those swiss sure have somer tricked out ski busses...

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