A lovely week with Betty!

Last week I was in Montgenevre with Lorna and the family for a ski holiday. It was a brilliant week, I also managed to get in some running and my most successful attempts at ski touring yet... maybe even Ski mountaineering!

Some Alps from the plane
From the plane we had a great view of the mountains as we flew into Turin, the weather was sunny with blue skies and stayed like that all week. On Sunday I did a few hours of skimo - first a long gentle climb from 2100m, then a long steep ridge up to the Crete du Chalvet which I climbed with skis off. There was a cornice along the top of the ridge and I nearly didn't go for it it, but I stayed over to the right on the way up and the view from the top was amazing! I'm glad I decided to go for it, there were no other footprints up there so I must've been the first person for a while. The ski down was quite steep on very variable snow but no problem really, I descended all the way down to Claviere village and then skinned along the valley back to Montgenevre.

Crete du Chalvet ridge
After a day's downhill on Monday I went out for a run up to the Crete de la Sierre Thibaud. I love running in the mountains in the evenings, especially in ski areas after the lifts have closed as the place becomes very calm. The slopes that were overcrowded a few hours ago are now peaceful and quiet. I had a good run up about 660m ascent, but slightly messed up the descent route and ended up bashing through deep snow with a nasty sharp crust - hence arriving home a bit later than planned and with a bit more blood on my shins!

Wednesday was my penultimate day's skiing so I decided to tour for the whole day, in fact I hardly took my skins off all day. I started along the valley towards Claviere, then up through the Montgenevre Golf course and eventually to the Bois de Prarial, via a dodgy route through some trees. Here I learnt valuable lessons about when to give up on the skiing and just take your skis off... I kept them on too long and ended up trying to remove them in a difficult position. Still, I ended up on a nice high summit looking over the Montgenevre bowl.
Wednesday morning selfie of Betty and myself
The morning's ski was finished off with a long but pretty shallow drag up to the old fort at the top of the bowl where I had lunch with the others. After lunch I decided to continue the theme of old military buildings and set off to have a look at the forts on top of Mt Janus. This meant skirting a military area which is restricted, I was a little apprehensive as we had heard practice firing all morning!

The climb was not as easy as it looked from below, the track was actually only just wide enough for two skis, and the snow was very slushy in places which didn't help. Eventually though I reached the summit of Mt Janus at around 2550m. The view down towards Briancon was impressive, I believe it is ski-able but not in the snow conditions we had last week! There are two large buildings up there and I couldn't resist a quick look inside one of them. It was very eerie, particularly being full of blown snow and so quiet. I spent 10 minutes or so looking around and took a few photos before I set off back down the same route.

One of the military buildings on Mt Janus
Inside the same building
The descent was better than expected and passed without incident till near the bottom, where I met the army guys who had been shooting all morning, now skinning up the way I had come. They stopped for a drink and I passed in the opposite direction, they were very friendly despite carrying large machine guns! I felt great after a good day on the skis, even when I ended up at the top of an unexpected couloir on the way home I was confident and skied it much better than I thought I might.

Oops! Unexpected Couloir
So that's the end of my skiing for this season, sadly I didn't make it to any Skimo races, but I have really enjoyed my little flirtation with the sport and look forward to getting into it more next season. The focus now turns back to running, the Fellsman isn't far away and Mt. Fuji entries open tomorrow...

PS. Betty is / are my skis :)

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