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A Central Valais Ski Tour. The Eagles Ski Club.

~ Saturday, 17th April 2010

I have just returned from one of the nicest ski tours I have ever done.

Our plan was to do a tour in the Central Valais Alps in Switzerland, dipping in and out of Haute Route country. The weather forecast was for clear mornings followed by a build up of clouds in the afternoon, which promised snow and therefore the possibility of plenty of fresh tracks!! I was guiding a group from the Eagles Ski Club, always keen for an adventure. The tour started in Siviez and followed a long and warm ascent  past the Lac de Cleuson to the col de Prafleuri. Here we were greeted with our first afternoon snow fall, which slightly hampered the descent to the Prafleuri hut! Day two dawned beautifully. Todays journey was relatively straightforward, following the Haute Route to the Cabane des Dix. The long descending traverse to the southern end of the Lac des dix was rewarded with some great turns on good snow before the climb up to the hut. There is always a warm welcome at the Cabane des Dix, so we soon felt at home and began the recovery process, tea, beer, tea, wine, etc!! On Tuesday our plan was to do a return trip up Mont Blanc de Cheilon. The cool, clear air gave us great views whilst ascending, firstly to the Col de Cheilon and then up to the winter summit of Mont Blanc de Cheilon. It was awesome and bettered only by the light fresh snow on the descent. The team were happily rising to any challenges placed before them, which was great because day four was going to be a big one! An early start and steady pace got us comfortably up the Pigne d’Arolla. Fearing warm temperatures for the crossing to the Col de l’Eveque, we kept moving steadily onwards, enjoying a lovely descent to the Col de Chermontaine. Luckily, the air was cool today and the long, but beautiful skin to the Col de l’Eveque was a doddle. Our descent from hear through the Col Collon to the Nacamuli hut was delightful, great snow and awesome views. The welcome in Italy was as good as anywhere and the past, coffee and wine soon put life back into tiring limbs. A great day, a fine achievement by the team. Day five dawned nice, but clouds always threatened our journey to the Aosta hut. Fortunately, the snow held off until we had reached the Col de La Division, a wee way above the hut. Careful cramponing and steady ropework saw us safely down some steep ground and back onto our skis. However, all was not over, as the lower slopes saved a nice steep side slip as a fitting finale to another challenging and rewarding day. Well done everyone! Another pasta feast and entertaining evening in Italy prepared us for the final day of the tour. The col de la Division was a breeze, the Tete de Valpelline was cool, but the powder descent from it was perfect. A short skin brought us to the top of the Ferpecle Glacier, our intended route back to the valley. Wow! Possibly one of the finest ski descents in the Alps, right underneath the Dent Blanche, crevasses all over the place and of course, superb snow. It was amazing and everyone was grinning from ear to ear by the time we reached the bottom. It was by far the best day of the tour and the previous five were pretty impressive. I’d like to thank Tara, Jim, Andrea, Rachel, Faf, Mick and Phil for all of their hard work and effort required to make this a truly memorable and satisfying tour. Good on you all!!