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Skiing the Gliere bowl


There’s a particular ski area in Chamonix which- until recently- I’d not skied at. Brevent is so close to town it’s not worth driving to and you have to pay to park- but also there is a rather strenuous hill you have to walk up in your ski boots, carrying your skis which puts a few of us softies off….

But recently I’ve delighted in it – thanks to the Portaski, I just roll them up and down the hill - saving quite a bit of effort and shoulder pain caused by my off piste skis- which resemble two snowboards on each foot!

So armed with the essential kit of Portaski, avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe- myself and two friends set off to attempt a classic off piste route linking Brevent and its neighbour Flegere by a high level ridge traverse. The route had 120 meters of ascent and 800 meters downhill, but was graded as “not serious”, “quite easy” The book said the Col de la Gliere wasn’t too far off the beaten track, hiking up from the Col Cornu chairlift for about 15 minutes if the path had already been broken. This in fact took me about 45, as my bag wasn’t really suitable for strapping skis to and I had a bit of a wobble on section of the traverse our book had warned us about (“high avalanche risk after a big snowfall, notably on the traverse under the “Aiguille Poume”). There had indeed been an avalanche down this section and any slip and I would have been off after it – which made me pause at a rocky section with a very narrow placement for feet – I just couldn’t work out how to step down safely.

It was a very cold, but clear day and we skied from the Lac Cornu chairlift down the Charlanon run for a few meters before climbing up opposite a ski patrol hut where we reached a rounded ridge. Huffing and puffing and over taken by some gnarly ski tourers who skinned up – I was rewarded with some breathtaking views –it was as if no human had passed by this way before! We followed the path right to the Col du Lac Comu and traversed right under the Aiguille Poume – where I had my wobble - to the Col de la Gliere. Then an trackless Gliere bowl emerged before us -just asking to be skied. The snowboarder of the group went first making the only lines in the snow, I nervously went second, traversing left then down with legs burning from the hike up and not quite wanting to let go and glide without throwing a few turns, then my more confident friend followed me on skis. And it continued so all the way down to the Combe Lachenal and the Flegere chairlift.

A run like that needs no more skiing afterwards- it’s satisfying enough – so we headed home, me happy to have been pushed a little out of my comfort zone – but not too much and keen to do some real ski touring before the season is over.

portaski · 1828 days ago
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Skiing the Gliere bowl