The first real powder skiing experience this year we got, as we often do, off the Punta Helbronner on the south side of the Mont Blanc Massif. On the 14th of December we skied 20cm of light powder on top of a soft base, and we were the only ones on the whole mountain that morning! Immense crevasses are still wide open, but at least they are easy to spot, and the skiable area on Glacier de Toule is massive.
The next day we decided to make a small hike from Punta Helbronner to gain some hight and ski the steep south-east face of Aiguille d’Entreve before joining Glacier de Toule. We got to ski the face in perfect powder conditions this time. However, it’s often a great run also later in the season on corn snow.
Aiguille D’Entreve Ski Tour
The tour is a great combination of ski touring and ski mountaineering with a challenging steep skiing descent. After skiing the 500m face of 40 to 45 degrees, the run continuous on the lower angle and playful slopes of Glacier de Toule. A lap or two should be finished with a delicious pasta at the Bar de Toule. In the early season it can be worth it to ski all the way down to the valley, thus getting 3700m vertical skiing from Entreves to La Palud. Or go back up again for more glacier skiing…
Col d’Entreve is reached by 30 min of skinning after skiing down from either Aiguille du Midi or Punta Helbronner towards the Cirque Maudit. Once at Col d’Entrve a short scramble up the west ridge of Aiguille d’Entreve takes you to the start of the south shoulder.
Alternatively: Dropping into the bowl straight south from Col d’Entreves, down to Glacier d’Entreves. This week we also skied from Col d’Entreve, a 300m 45 degree steep mountain side, joining the big bowl of glacier d’Entreves. From there it is possible either to traverse back to the Pavillon (Helbronner mid-station), or continue straight down all the way to the Mt Blanc tunnel.
This December day, thanks to the early season cold temperatures, the glaciers surrounding Punta Helbronner stayed powdery all day, and we got a few alternative runs done from Col d’Entreve and on Glacier de Toule. However, from February and onwards the skiing is usually done here before lunchtime due to its southernly exposure.
Punta Helbronner certainly offers some of the best big mountain off-piste terrain in the world. Bringing skins and crampons you can access many different runs along the French-Italian border. There are rarely any crowds here and time to enjoy the Italian coffee and delicious lunches.
The drive from Chamonix, though the Mt Blanc tunnel, is 30min and we often come here when the snow has arrived from the south.
Also in Chamonix the lifts are now open on Grands Montet, and the base is descent. So we can state that the winter 08/09 has arrived to the Alps and that Chamonix the off-piste powder skiing is full on!
Skiing Aiguille D’Entreves & Glacier Toule 15 Dec 2009
Some images from the 15 Dec 2009 skiing the face, with Eva Eskilsson, Wolfgan Huber, Kaj Zackrisson and Jimmy Halvardsson.
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