Tuesday April 10, 2007

I am writing from France, I left April 4th just before the Northeastern US got hit with a snowstorm and arrived in La Grave the 5th. I have a number of friends that guide in La Grave and I was quickly setup with a place to stay, this had all been organize by my friend Matt Farmer who everyone knows as just Farmer. I was met at the bus stop by Adrian and his wife Lissa. Once at their apartment they fed me and gave me a bed to sleep in. The next day Lissa, Adrian and I met with Keith, another friend and guide, and went skiing. Keith has been in La Grave a number of years and was anxious to show me around. It’s always fun when I get to catch a local guide on their days off.

For those of you unfamiliar with skiing in La Grave it is a mountain area with a lift. It is not really a ski area as we know them. The lift takes you up and there is are no “runs”. For the most part it is lift service backcountry. The lift accesses some very complex terrain and it takes quite some time to learn the area. Because I was with local guides I got to experience La Grave in three days in a way I would never have been able to. One local Frenchman who works rescues on the mountain heard what I got to ski just the first day and said; ” Many skiers have spent three years in La Grave and have not gotten to ski those lines”. I was truly lucky to be with Keith, Adrian and Lissa. What I didn’t realize was the first day was just a warm-up.

I know that many people reading this won’t know the area or the names of the lines I skied. I will list them here with short descriptions so you can reference the pictures and understand the nature of the lines.

Day 1

img_0045Chirouze Right: This run starts from the top of the lifts and requires some walking. It begins on a glacier, a beautiful powder run but ends up in a steep narrow and icy gully that requires a rappel. Because of it’s complex finish it holds fresh tracks long after a storm.


Trefide 0





Trefide 0: This run is easy to get to and is reminiscent of a runs on Mount Washington. The best way to describe it is a cross between Left Gully and Dodges Drop.



Traverse into the Pan Rateau


Pan Rateau: Because the upper lifts were closed this was a 30 minute walk to a col. A steep traverse takes you to a 50-55 degree slope with a bergschrund at the bottom Because of this the lower angle glacier below holds fresh tracks long after a storm.

Pan Rateau

Pan Rateau

Day 2 (I did these descents with Keith and Waldo)

Tour to the Breche (Col) de La Meije and down the Enfetchores: This is often done as a two day tour but can be done as a long day. After climbing over two cols you ski down a 35-40 degree glacier run.




Breche (Col) de La Meije

Day 3

Tour to the Breche (Col) de La Meije and ski the Glacier de la Meije: This run is seldom done and Keith was eyeing it for some time!


Glacier de la Meije





For information about guides in La Grave check the Skiers Lodge For more info about Keith check his web site here.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.