I met up with friends at St Etienne de Cuines in the Maurienne valley on Saturday morning to enjoy a great day out with blue skies, some good powder and good company.
We drove up to a small village to find that we weren’t going to be alone!? We left the roadside with skis on and started up the lower Merlet valley following a summer track.?? At last we reached the large valley bottom.? The sunny side of the valley had a few remnants of avalanches following the recent rise in temperature however the north-facing slopes looked good.
At the end of the valley we gained height steadily before a small subsidiary cwm led to the col du Villonet at 2545m; about 1500m of ascent from the car.
There were fine views towards the Aiguilles d’Arves and southward to the Ecrins.? After a “casse croute” it was off with the “skins”.? The first 30m was quite hard and icy before we got into wonderful powder which induced the normal cries of joy.
Back down into the valley bottom we managed to ski to within 50m of the car with the snow taking on typical spring snow characteristics.