The area above the Tre la Tete and Conscrits huts is one of my favourite “ski Mountaineering” areas. The Tre la Tete glacier is a wild feeling place, with soaring snow faces and some fairly spectacular glacial hanging ice. The terrain is adventurous and this is definitely ski Mountaineering rather than touring. Even getting into the main valley involves negotiating the infamous “mauvais pas” – the bad step. Traversing above some steep cliffs dropping into the gorge requires some careful judgement of conditions. This April it felt very straight forward and we simply walked across with skis on the rucksack.
I met up with Will, Sophie and Hermionie at the Tre la Tete hut first thing in the morning, as they had made the ascent the previous afternoon to break the ascent up. This meant that we had the chance to ski Mont Tondu before going to the Conscrits refuge. Mont Tondu is a good peak, just over 3000m high and is skiable from both the Conscrits side as well as from Les Contamines.
It was a hot slog up the final slopes in the sunshine, but it was worth it. The cloud was rapidly coming into the valley and so we turned around two minutes (or less) from the summit. This meant we had the chance to ski the untracked north-east face directly from the summit, which included a little down scramble to access the main slope which is always fun!
We finally got to the hut around seven hours after leaving the Tre la Tete refuge, and had clocked over 1500m of ascent. A proper day in the hills! The Conscrits refuge is excellent. A well layed out hut with small rooms and good food. They even served the whole hut a vegetarian lasagne, which makes a nice change, rather than the vege’s feeling like they’re lacking in sustenance.
Moving out of the Conscrits hut towards the Domes du Miage always seems to involve a lot of traversing. It was icy and so we started off with ski crampons and slightly fatigued legs after Fridays efforts. The Domes du Miage summit ridge was as eye catching and as aesthetic as ever. A classic snow ridge that is narrow enough to warrant a lot of concentration but never too outrageous. It was in great condition and we enjoyed the summit views before clipping into the skis to descend the Armensette glacier.
And although the route had been skied quite a bit, we were able to find fresh tracks all the way down. A tough but rewarding couple of days for the team, but perfect weather and good conditions all the way. Looking forward to the annual trip back to the Conscrits next season already!