Les Rouies

4 am.

A soft electrical buzzing.

“Ohh no…!”

We are in the car boot.

No, it’s not a kidnapping.

Just the most convenient place to sleep before T. and I attempt Les Rouies for the third time (for me at least, see The Hungover Games!). Having left Grenoble in the evening we had driven up to La Berarde, eaten supper and made the most of the comforts offered by Barry, my slightly ugly but spacious Renault estate.

Early bird gets the worm

The sun rises behind the Barre

 

It’s a long route and although it was early April the snowline had already receded to the cabin du Carrelet. As we headed up the start of the Glacier du Chardon, the moon hung in the sky, framed by the mountains, as the clouds started to turn orange. We gained both altitude and distance, before coming to the steeper access to the uppe part of the glacier. We could see the first corridor had been swept by multiple avalanches in the days before, but as it was early morning it was still solid. Putting on crampons we headed up, dodging the occasional piece of ice that would come tumbling down. An ominous piece of snow perched above us gave us the incentive to move fast. Although the slope was still in good shape we decided to definitely not come back down once the sun had hit it. Hot and sweaty from the climb (we had moved out of the shadows into the sun) we slowly got back into rhythm and gained the Glacier des Rouies.

 

Toto is ready

Start of the climb up to the Glacier des Rouies

 

But T. had run out of steam and decided to stop, roughly where I had done a year before. So heading on alone I made the best speed I could to the base of the climb. Leaving my skis I hiked up the steeper face to the summit. A group of Swiss had just descended, breaking the regular steps in the side, which coupled to the sugary consistency of the snow slowed me down. Breathing heavily the view opened out around me and I could clearly identify most of the peaks around. Having the summit to myself I just rested for a few instants taking it all in.

Due west from the summit

Alone on the summit!

The speck.

 

But the small speck on the glacier and my watch told me I should be going.

Getting back to T. we soon set off down the glacier. After a rather tense moment finding the right way down (the sun had been to work on the slopes and things weren’t as stable as I would have liked) we were able to enjoy the descent of Chardon. It was la moquette de poils longs all the way! This translates into something like the long haired carpet and is characteristic spring snow. The top layer melts and you have some soft slush on a hard base. Excellent!

Racing the sun (Courtesy of T.Auzelle)

Dropping of the Rouies into Chardon (Courtesy of T.Auzelle)

La moquette!!

Glacier du Chardon

A great day, although T. will now have to go back for HIS third time lucky!

 

February 2015.

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