Pic des Chalanches


Trail photos

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Trail stats

5.71 mi
Elevation gain
3,481 ft
Technical difficulty
Elevation loss
3,333 ft
Max elevation
9,125 ft
Min elevation
6,386 ft
Trail type
3 hours 31 minutes
November 16, 2008
November 2008
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near Chalets de l'Orcérette, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (France)

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Trail photos

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Itinerary description

Pic de Chalanches is a great early season tour when the conditions are right, and today they were right. Later on in the season the skiing can be as good, but the approach is much longer and harder as the road from Villard up to lac de l’Orceyrette will be blocked with snow adding some 800m of climbing and 9km of distance on.

We got up there early this morning so that we could do a little tour with a couple of descents. We skinned up through the trees towards the chalets de l’Alp, in summer the huts for the shepherds working the high alpine pastures, before heading south towards the Crete de Maravoise and aiming for the col at 2539m. All the way up it was pretty obvious that the snow conditions were perfect with last Wednesday’s layer of about 30cm of powder sitting well on the base that fell a couple of weeks ago.

We were not the only people there and chatted to some Haute-Savoyards at the col who frequent this area for ski touring. The descent was superb, 250m of perfect powder snow with only four other sets of tracks to avoid. Then back on with the skins for the climb back up to the main goal of the day, Pic de Chalanches at 2779m.

We caught up with another couple here who had their dog with them, a small collie. He seemed to be enjoying himself but kept trying to get a free ride up on the tails of our skis. The views from the summit are spectacular with the whole of the Queyras laid out before you to the south with Mont Viso making its significant mark just over the border in Italy. To the north there were good views of the Ecrins and Mont Blanc was visible in the distance.

The descent back of this summit was fantastic. Again the same fluffy powder but a much wider slope with more room to crank in some big turns and a few rocky outcrops to hop off. A small traverse brought us to another pitch which brought us back down to the chalets de l’Alp, and then some combat skiing through the trees brought us back out at the lake and our waiting car.

What a wonderful day skiing and such a pleasure to get out at this time of year. On the drive back down we remarked that with the sun shining on the cliffs and Ayes we could easily have got an afternoon cragging in as well had we thought to bring our kit.

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