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Eagles Ski Tour in the Haute Maurienne.

~ Saturday, 10th April 2010

Last week I returned from another superb week of ski touring in the Haute Maurienne. I was skiing with a very motivated and competent group from the Eagles Ski Club, the UK's only ski touring club. We had some very mixed weather during the week and this meant that we had to work our way around the area making the most of where we were. The planned itinerary went right out of the window!! On arrival in Bessans, we were welcomed with 8 inches of snowfall overnight. Cool in someways, but not safe for our planned hut approach, so we skied off the lifts at Bonneval sur Arc. This gave us a good chance to have a thorough transciever training session aswell as getting our ski legs into action! Day two was much finer and safer so we ascended the upper Arc valley to the Carro hut. This hut is delightful, in the heart of some lovely mountains and very well run. Whilst enjoying some afternoon sun on the balcony we were treated to the sight of a pair of Lammergeier vultures cruising the thermals on a local hill. Awesome and a very special first for me! The meteo that evening dampened things somewhat with doom and gloom for the foreseeable future. We descended back to Bessans the next morning, to re-ascend to the refuge d'Averole where we felt we could atleast get some short and safe tours done if the weather stayed as poor as forecast. Things brightened a bit for us and our first afternoon there saw us blast up towards the Col de La Bessanese in clag, to be treated with a fine descent in the sun. Thursday morning also started promising, but after a little while everything went grey. An hour of following a bearing brought us to a the Lac d'Arberon, where the only right decision was to turn around. Following our skinning track back down the valley, to give us some contrast provided some of the best poor visibility skiing I have ever had. Nice!! Again, the refuge was a welcome retreat, but not for long as frustratingly the sun broke through again, so we headed out to put a few more tracks in!! Friday dawned as promised and we headed for Pointe Marie, a lovely summit high on the Italian border above the Glacier d' Arnes. The valley approach to the glacier was bathed in sunshie and superb light, everyone was so pleased.  The glacier itself is quite safe and it lead us very close to the summit, gained after a short walk. The descent of the glacier below the northern flank of the Ouille d'Arberon was stunning. We found many superb pockets of snow leading all the way back to the hut. A truly fantastic descent! Lunch at the hut was followed by a blast down the track back to Bessans and sadly the end of a great week. I'd like to thank Pat, Andy M, Andy D, Michael, Paul and Sonia for all their efforts in making the week a real success.