25 Jun 10

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Ecrins Tour


As far as we could tell, today's forecast was the same as yesterday's, but with very different results. Cloudbase was low and indistinct, as if at 1pm the day hadn't really started. I got away easily enough but spent some time on Blayeul trying to get enough height to cross to the parcours. Three large buzzards were having the same trouble, but they had turbos. When I did reach the parcours I found that it was working well, though a low cloudbase at Dormillouse forced a descent before I could transit to Morgon. 
I crossed the lake for my first battle of the holiday with Guillaume. I reached its west-facing slopes at a respectable 7000ft, took a climb to the top and got some extra height at the tete de Lucy to get me easily into the St Crepin valley. From there it was plain sailing to the col d'Etache where I made a brief foray into the Modane valley before deciding that that would do for the day. I turned back and headed for a scenic tour of the Barre des Ecrins.


I approached the Glacier Blanc low over its northern ridge, which I find more dramatic than the traditional entry from the south. The Barre itself still had that avalanche-in-waiting near the summit, plus a couple of new ones further down the slope, a consequence of this spring's unusually heavy snows. The remainder of the range was covered in low-base, towering cumulus.

I climbed to 13,000ft and toured the summits in search for a route through the clouds. I managed to pick my way between the cumulus all the way to the pic de Bure, where I finally found myself back at cloudbase again. Chatter on the radio warned of a storm brewing in the Laragne area, and when I saw lightning I decided to call it a day and flew home.

Avalanche (still) waiting to happen

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