It is currently not too bad to live on the north side of the French Hautes Alpes. As usual, the season started pretty good. Since Friday December 4th there is good ski touring around Pelvoux. Yes ski touring, because only competition skiers with a license are allowed to take a lift in Puy Saint Vincent. And, personally, I don't even have a problem with that. You can always wake me up for a good ski tour. My alarm clock did so last Sunday at 6:00 after it snowed about 20 cm on Saturday.
We (my telemark ski buddy Raphael and I) left early to beat the expected crowds. At the moment, ski touring is booming in France. The lifts are closed and yet everyone wants to ride powder. We left for the touring ski classic 'La Blanche'. This mountain is located about seven hundred meters above the highest lift of the one-lift wonder of Pelvoux. But now without the lifts, we left about four hundred meters lower in the hamlet of Puy Aillaud. As hoped, we were the first and left with the sun slowly rising. It was cold. With the beautiful rising sun and the trail that was already there, we quickly climbed up.
La Blanche is literally my backyard, I've already climbed to this top dozens of times every winter. For the classic descent (pretty much always good snow), for one of five challenging couloirs you can find here or for one of my favorite local slopes: the east face of La Rouya. This time, and with the current unstable snow, we chose the standard route where with a little terrain knowledge you can stay below 30°.
That turned out to be a good choice. The snow was great, from top to bottom we found 20 cm of light powder on a more compact layer of snow. The skiing was good. At least as long as we pay attention to where we skied, because it's still the start of the season, and those sharks haven't completely disappeared yet.
It was a great choice that we left early. There were more people on the mountain than on a normal day in January when the lifts are open.