My thoughts and experiences cycling, snowboarding and travelling around the world
So with no fresh snow for a week and decidedly early season conditions, we decided to do a couple of splitboard tours on weekend of 7th/8th December. On the saturday we head up to Col Grande St Bernard on the Swiss Italian border. It is just up the valley after Verbier from the town of Martigny. The road in the summer carries on to 2400m but in winter the pass is closed and a tunnel takes you into Italy. Just before the Tunnel is Super St Bernard a small ski resort, that was closed when we visited. The car park is at about 2000m so a good height to start touring. We followed the road up to the col, before turning off to the left up to Col Ouest de Barasson just before the summit. A scenic spot that offers some fun lines down to Italy but a cruisier run back to the snow covered road we skinned up. To be honest if the snow is better it would be a good spot for some steep lines but the temptation to turn off to Verbier en route will probably be too great!!
On Sunday 8th we headed up to Les Contamines-Mont Joie. With splitboards in hand we parked up past the shrines next to the picturesque church at La Gorge. From here we headed up the track that the summer Tour de Mt Blanc folllows. We followed this towards the cabins at La Balme. Shortly before we turned up a track to Col Fenetre.
We checked the map at some cabins in a beautiful spot per picture below.
Rising up above the chalets, still below Col Fenetre, there was a great small cliff band that would give some great freeride terrain in better snow. It had a nice smooth, long run outs below about 30ft cliffs.
After the small cliff band the terrain is rolling bumps until the approach to Col Fenetre. There were quite a few rocks poking through the snow, but clear ski lines were possible. The col faces East to north east so had been sun affected slightly.
In the shelter of the forest the snow was pretty much preserved by the freezing temperatures as it fell over a week ago. Later on in the day we traversed from Col Fenetre towards the perfectly curved Col de la Cicle. This was again bit icier than expected with a un predictable crust. We hit it at about 4pm so the sun had long gone. The picture below is Marion riding out before the slope started heading down to La Balme. We then headed along the narrow but snowy track all the way to La Gorge. The last section of the track was a wide section of pure water ice and required boards on back and some carefully foot placement, but meant there were some outstanding icicles.
All in a great weekend spent on the splitboards.