Early Season Skiing in France • December, 2007

Yes, yes, I know I have been slow in keeping up with our recent trips pages, but better late than never. So without further ado, here is the first installment in my effort to catch up.

We start with early season skiing in the Chamonix area. In spite of a good start to the snow pack, the lifts did not open until mid-December. But with a bit of skinning, we were able to ski the "pistes" none-the-less.

Even though it looks like a regular day of skiing at the Le Tour area, all of these folks skinned up from the valley. The area is still closed, and not scheduled to open for another week. The fact that we all had to work a bit to get up here made for some enjoyable camaraderie.

The view back down towards Chamonix from Le Tour. Mont Blanc is up to the left, out of view.

Left to right are Mark, Ramsay, Heather and Kathy. Having fun at Le Tour.

Le Tour. All the cars in the lot are from ski tourers, taking advantage of the great weather and early snow.

Kathy skis to the top of the Tête de Balme. The summit is 2321 meters high, some 870 meters above Le Tour. A good workout for the afternoon.

The view down the Chamonix Valley from the Tête de Balme. Mont Blanc is the big peak.

The snow starts to get a bit heavy down here, near the bottom of the run back to Le Tour.

On one or two of our early season outings, we passed through the Mont Blanc tunnel to go skate skiing in the Val Ferret. This photo of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey was taken from near the Italian side of the tunnel, on our way back home.

Bit by bit, the lifts began to open. The Grands Montets opened the lower lifts on weekends. From the top of the Bochard lift, we made a couple trips skinning up the glacier to untracked powder. Looking west from the Glacier de Lognan at almost 3000 meters.

Turning the corner...

Squeezing in another day at Le Tour before the next storm arrives.

Not a lot of snow, but enough to have a good time.

Looking down the Chamonix Valley.

On December 15th the Aiguille du Midi opened for the first day of the winter season. Though the skies were blue, the wind was howling. We decided to see just how much snow there was up there. The arête was not yet equipped. Here a climber returns from some adventure.

We skied down the more or less "normal" route, finding a few too many crevasses, and lots of wind. It was amusing but a challenge.

Finally, almost out of the woods, we can relax a bit.

Being pushed by the wind down the lower Mer de Glace. We did see a few other skiers, but perhaps less than a dozen altogether. The Vallee Blanche still needed a bit more snow.

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