Ski touring in the Queyras, France • February 20 to 25, 2012

Our week in the Queyras was blessed with some really nice snow, thanks to flurries on our first day there. We were joined by old friends Kade Spears, Russ Lee, and Elizabeth Moceri, as well as new friends Rick Bazlucke, and sisters Gianna and Milena.

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The Gang's All Here: from left to right Mark, Elizabeth A.K.A. Mo, Kathy, Milena, Kade, Rick, Gianna, Russ.


Mustering for our first morning on the doorstep of our Gîte, Les Gabelous, in Saint Véran


We skinned up a big hill called Le Mourre Froid. Snow was patchy, crusted, and from the look of another party descending this slope, quite challenging. Never mind; our plan was to ski the north facing trees (Actually that was pretty challenging too, hence no grinning victory shots of that descent!).


Leaving the village the next morning for our onward journey.


Riding the lifts as high as we could, we took off into the back country up to the Pic de Château Renard.


Beginning our descent off the SW facing slopes, we have to negotiate a few rocky patches before hitting more consistent snow below.


After a rather-too-generous lunch at the Refuge de la Blanche, we headed up for an afternoon lap to the Col Blanchette below the impressive Tête des Toillies. This fresh-fallen north-facing snow was much more promising!


Approaching our high point near the Col.


And oh, this was SO much more like it! Gianna likes it anyway.


The table set for dinner at the Refuge de la Blanche.


The following day we skinned up and over the shoulder of the Sagnes Longues. Kathy drops in to begin the long descent down the Vallon de Clausis.


Mo getting set for take-off.


Jawohl! Russ seems to like it too.


Time to pay the piper, with a long conversational amble up the groomed road to the Refuge d'Agnel.


Sunny, not quite warm! Taking a well-deserved break at the hut after an ascent of the Pic de Caramantran.


After which another afternoon stroll takes us to a bump along the ridge above the Col Agnel.


Fabulous snow (no pics!), but now it's Miller time.


Gianna and Milena skinning back to the hut, with the scene of our glory behind.


Mmmm! Croute smothered in fromage! And green leafies too...


The next day we have a couple of cols to cross before descending to Ristolas. We head out early across very wind-scoured and variable snow.


Descending from the Col de l'Eychassier.


Climbing back up over the Col du Clot de Poulain, or near it...


Down in Ristolas, back in civilization.


After a night in a hotel in Abries, we ride lifts once more to get up high for the start of our final day on the tour. Milena is ready for her picnic!


Mo enjoys yet more wonderful snow on the north-facing descent.


The après-ski, er, "de-brief" in the local gathering place. Thanks to all of our friends new and old for making this a terrific week!