I had a most excellent day out yesterday with Roland who'd made a superb educated choice after my insistence on a ski descent the previous day in torrential rain. The frogs are quite set in their ways, which is mostly a good thing, but also odd on occasion when opportunity knocks. Most people are currently either on their bikes, or heading to the Mediterranean.
We had a rendezvous at Bozel at 0430 and were up past Pralongnon by 0500 where we parked at about 1900m. It was a five km walk to the snow-line which was skiable down to 2200m, but we didn't put our skins on until the Refuge Peclet Polset at 2400m. There was fresh snow down to 2500m. As things steepened, we put on crampons and roped up. Parts of the climb were out of my comfort zone, and the glacier once we topped at over 3000m was wind-iced and very slippery even with skins. The entire climb was a no-slip zone, so I was relieved to finally summit at around 10 a.m. at 3530m.
The Aiguille Polset is basically the summit of the Gebroulez Glacier, which is one of the largest in the Alps, running behind Val Thorens and Meribel. So the views were exceptional in every direction, highlighted by the Meije to the south and Mt Blanc massif to the north.
We took the classic ski descent as per the 1:25000 topo. The first 200m vertical was icy and delicate and we took it slowly to avoid becoming crevasse fodder. Then followed 1000m vertical of glorious hero corn before dropping a narrow and very steep sun-baked couloir down onto the apron leading back to the refuge. Roland remarked that it was one of his finer lines down the glacier, and definitely the latest.
The refuge itself was swarming with runners on the 66km Tour de Glaciers Vanoise (TGV!), which had been re-routed this year because of the snow. I'd just missed Kilian Jornet, which was probably just as well. In the context of my elevated mood and hero worship, I might have said or done something inappropriate.
Even more inappropriate was what transpired between myself and a marmot on the way back to the car. They evidently like the taste of salt.