Sunday, March 2, 2014

Col du Merlet (2286m), ski touring.

Col du Merlet.

Last year I tried out ski touring for the first time.  We did one shorter trip with Jakub and a bunch of friends (few hundred meters elevation) which was good for a start.  I borrowed my skis from a friend and Jakub took his snow shoes and snowboard.  I really liked it and the snow conditions were very nice, unfortunately, the weather was not so good and we spent the whole time in fog. 

When the weather got nicer though, I had a chance to get out once more with Francis and Sabina and this time, we went to the Col du Merlet (2286m).  The trip is about 1250m of elevation gain and 14km long.  The ski touring begins in a forest, followed by a very beautiful valley, and is finally finished off by a steeper ascent to the pass.


Ski touring!  The start of the valley.

I think I was managing OK to get through the valley as it was relatively flat, but the heat definitely picked up as the time went on.  When we finally reached the steepest part of the ascent, it was around lunch time, and I was sweating like a pig, with my face drenched.  Of course all the sun screen was washed off nicely this way, and I developed a beautiful tomato-red sun burn (with obvious white sunglass circles around my eyes).   I did receive plenty of comments at work the next day :D.

Other possibilities for skiing on the way, but we had a different goal today (this looked quite steep to me anyway).

No person in sight.

The last bit.  Here we met a few people.  This was the hardest part of course.  I was very exhausted at the top :)

After I was done fighting the heat and the elevation, we finally made it to the top.  There, it was quite amazing and breath taking.  However, we decided to ski back down as soon as possible and then have a small snack back in the valley as the snow was getting harder to ski in by the minute.  I did find it challenging to ski down because the snow was very heavy and slushy; the descent was almost as equally difficult as hiking up.

At the top!

My two guides - thanks guys!!!

Made it.  (tomato face :)

A bit unusual to find the signs below your knee level :D

Looking over the pass towards the Vercors.

Once we got down into the valley, the rest of the ski down was relatively easy going.  It was a great work out and it got me interested in ski touring for sure.   I really like the fact that you go to pristine places untouched by human destruction and the views at the end of the hike are well worth it.

On the way down.

On the way down...a bit lucky I guess, we went this way in the  morning.

This year I've been trying to get out again, but it seems that all of my friends have started very early in the season and they go regularly every weekend, which means I am not at the same level and thus, I need to find someone who could take me on something easier to get back into shape.  The only problem is, that the winter season is almost over and next week we're heading to a ski resort with the kids for the "winter holidays break" let's see if I can squeeze a trip or two in this year.  If not, hopefully next year!