First and Last Tracks on the Haute Route for 2011
Even though 2011 was a fairly lean snow year, there was still plenty of snow at high altitude. We found great conditions on our classic ski tours, and the last Haute Route of 2011 was no exception.
We skied the Haute Route in the first week in May. This is a very different experience to making the crossing in March or early April. Suncream, sun hats and light clothing are essential equipment. The high mountains are still snowy, so it doesn't feel like summer, however the sun is hot and the reflection from the snow is intense, so it doesn't feel like winter. For the majority of the trip, a single long sleeve top and trekking trousers were all that were needed.
I must admit, I felt a little dubious about the conditions due to the fact that we had at least four weeks of sunshine and 25 degree heat in the valley. It was clear that we would be walking (rather than skinning) for sections of the route. However my self and three companions Adrian, Matt and Mike soon settled into the challenge. Our trip was a quiet and beautiful voyage and wonderful to see the heart of the alps in the spring time glory.
During the spring there is a huge difference between north and south facing slopes. On the south facing slopes we either walked or linked patchy snow, conversely on the North side, substantial accumulations of snow remaining which offered great skiing, even powder at times. Some of the southerly slopes had new carpets of spring flowers and were a joy to walk through in our ski boots!
A minor front crossed the Vallais on Tuesday which meant we made our own track for virtually the whole route. The highlight was the descent from the summit of the Rosablanche to the Prafleuri Hut (see photo). The conditions were as close to perfect as I have ever experienced. Powder heaven right from the top of the peak!
So it is goodbye to the ski season of 2011. Thanks to all the people I have skied with this winter for the great sport and great company.
IFMGA Mountain Guide - Mountain Tracks