Mont Thabor area ski tour • March 14 - 20, 2017

This year's "exploratory" trip was to a region of the French Alps that we've come to hear of from French and British colleagues, as being an unusually pleasant and congenial center for ski touring. Located on the border between the departments of Savoie and Hautes Alpes, and not far from the famous La Grave, this area is variously referred to as the "Haute Route of Mont Thabor", the "Vallée de la Clarée", or the "Massif des Cerces", so we had a hard time coming up with an accurate or recognizable name for it. But it did live up to reports, both in terms of hospitality, and terrain. Our program ended up quite different from what we had planned, for logistical reasons, but a great time was had by all. We were joined by Ken Newton, Elizabeth Moceri, and David Ries.


Other Trips with David Ries

Albula ski tour, March 2015
Vallee Blanche, March 2011
Silvretta, March 2008
Ortler skiing, April 2004
Haute Route, April 2002

Other Trips with Ken Newton

Albula ski tour, March 2015
Monte Rosa Traverse, July 2004
Haute Route, April 2002


Other Trips with Mo Moceri

Gran Paradiso ski, April 2016
Alps climbing, June 2015
Vanoise Haute Route, March 2015
Val Maira, February 2014
Albula skiing, March 2013
Queyras, February 2011
Summer Haute Route, July 2010
Alps climbing, July 2009
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Alps climbing, August 2007
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Alps climbing, July 2005
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004
Mount Kenya, September 2002
Berner skiing, May 2002
Cho Oyu Expedition, October 2001

Return to all recent trips


Our first evening in our lodging in Nevache. Folks look pretty serious about their food! We had a couple of peoples' luggage left by the airline somewhere between Amsterdam and Torino, so were unable to head straight up to the huts as planned the following day. Instead...


Some sight seeing in Briançon, the lovely walled city of the Dauphiné.


Followed by an extended lunch in the Spring sunshine.


The baggage not having arrived by the next morning, we opted for a day tour not far from the Col du Lautaret. Classic Spring conditions.


As luck would have it, Ken and David had booked their pre-trip night in the cozy and charming hotel "Chalet des Touristes" near the base of the La Salle Les Alpes ski area. Our friendly, talented and extremely helpful host Vincent, lent us clothing to ensure we could still get out and enjoy some skiing while waiting (still!) for the bags to arrive.


When they did not arrive on day 2, we decided to head up to La Grave, the famous! The conditions were not great for anything extreme, nor for the lower reaches. But up high they were just what the doctor ordered. Here we are being towed by a snow-cat over the inconvenient stretch between the cable car top station and the base of the drag lift.


Again, nice spring conditions on the high glacier.


Our host and hostess, Vincent and Marie-Noëlle, enjoy a glass with us at dinner.


Vincent serves up his signature "pumpkin" dish, generously stuffed with leaks, cream and local cheese. Delicious.


AT LAST! The luggage caught up with us. We headed out on a modified 4 day itinerary, straight in over a high ridge to one of the several huts in the valley beyond. Prittty firm snow so far...


Cresting the ridge near the Col du Chardonnet, en route to the hut of the same name.


A very nice descent!


To a very cute little hut.


Sun on the terrasse, are we happy?


Yes, we are!


The next morning we started early on an ambitious mission to cross the ridge into a high bowl with some steep skiing to be had, en route to our next hut.


The forecast was uncertain, and both clouds and wind built rapidly as we climbed. By the time we neared the ridge crest, the gusts were violent and the plan changed abruptly. We returned to the hut and had coffee while we made a plan ... D, or F by now?


But really the only sensible thing to do was to descend into the main valley (of the Clarée that is!), and follow the summer trail to our night's lodging, the Drayères hut.


The storm gathered force quickly as we went, and soon it was raining!


We took refuge in another hut along the way (and no, they did not have room, or we would have stayed right by this fire!).


We stayed for lunch.


No pictures of the lashing rainstorm that chased us to our hut, but this drying space pretty much tells the tale.


The following day was beautiful however, if a bit warm. We took a day tour up to a neaby peak.


Getting up higher we left the rain crust behind and got into some fresher "paint".


Our goal appears in the dispersing mists...


The summit of the Grande Tempête, with the Écrins massif in the background.


Rapidly warming Spring snow on the descent.


Afternoon sun on our return voyage.


Our last day dawned clear once again, with a good freeze but warm temperatures in the forecast. We got an early start.


Heading up to another high ridge, which will allow us to ski right back down to our car.


But first we have a couple of long climbs and short, sweet descents to cover.


Excellent corn snow, just too brief!


One of the residents of the hut decided to join us for a walk!


She stayed with us all day, not leaving even when we crested the ridge and committed ourselves to descending a completely different drainage. Kathy's theory is that this lovely dog (Cannelle is her name) took a shine to Mark and wanted him to adopt her. Mark appears torn, perhaps confused by her irresistable charm. Kathy jealously tried to chase her back home, but she would have none of that.


Midway down our descent, Vincent and Marie-Noëlle appeared on their way up! They had decided to take a personal ski day and meet us as we came home. We were delighted to see them on this gorgeous day!


Sadly, we were not able to ski all the way to the road. At least not on snow.


Cannelle has found a new sweetheart! Marie-Noëlle made her a nice bed in the garden, Vincent made her a nice dinner of boeuf bourgignon (there was enough for us too!), and the next day one of the hut helpers came and got her to bring her home. What a great trip in the end, with friends old and new!

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