Ticks in boxes

When we arrived in La Combe I was quickly inspired by the mountains around us and made lots of little plans in my head - I wanted to run up all the peaks around us, and then what about a "La Combe Skyline", or a long one up the valley from Moutiers, and lots more plans...

The season started and the early lack of snow meant I did manage to get up quite a few of the nearby summits, but there were two that always evaded me, and after a few weeks, when snow did eventually arrive, they were unfortunately too dangerous to try. Since January I have been unable to look at these two mountains, Creve Tete and Pointe de Diallant, without wondering whether I would be able to get up them before we leave La Combe. I should point out that in summer neither is particularly challenging, yes they both involve about 1500m of ascent each and the summit ridges are a slightly precipitous, but we're not talking mountaineering and I'm sure they are regularly climbed in summer!

In winter they are slightly more tricky, but after a failed attempt (which I wrote about) a few weeks earlier, a fortnight ago I finally did make it up Pointe de Diallant. It was a beautiful sunny day in contrast to the zero visibility on the first attempt, and a fantastic run. There was still a fair bit of snow around and the ridge from the summit which would've allowed me to drop directly back home still looked like it wanted to kill me, so I turned around at the top, but it was a perfect few hours.

Looking up to the top 


The summit! 
Ridge from summit (no thanks)

Yesterday I again had a day off and the weather looked OK, so I decided it was time to give Creve Tete a second go... I left home at 9 and started with the now familiar track up the hillside towards the little village of Flachere. I dropped back down to the main road before the village and ran along to St Jean de Belleville. From there I could see that the top half of the mountain was in cloud, but I decided I'd go up in the hope it would clear as forecast. The climb from St Jean takes you through some great tiny little villages, namely Granges and Novarlly, then up past a few more deralict farms and finally up onto the open mountainside towards the Col de Gollet at about 2000m.

By the time I got to the col the visibility was zero. I stopped twice and debated turning around as I was not 100% sure I was heading up the best route - I was following a compass bearing and though the slope I was climbing did not feel steep I was still not certain it was below the crucial 30 degree angle for avalanche risk. Not being able to see how much snow was above me didn't help settle the nerves! However, I reached the col and the slightly bizzare sight of the top of the highest ski lift in the Valmorel ski area. It wasn't running but I could hear skiers on the lower slopes through the gloom!

It looked like I'd have to turn around, but I decided to have a look at the climb up the ridge to the summit, and as I set off up the weather began to clear slightly. So, to cut a long story short, after another 30 minutes or so and some slightly scary rock climbing to avoid traversing steep snowy slopes, I made it to the top.

Looking up towards the summit
Hmm... not sure where this is. Sample weather photo!

Summit.
Get in!
As I climbed I did wonder about the descent, the conditions were dodgy and the fact I'd had to climb up rocks to avoid traversing dangerous-looking snow made me a bit nervous, but it wasn't actually that bad. The cloud did clear slightly and I was able to find a better way down the very top section, then the path from the col rather than the snow slope I'd climbed on the way up. The key was not to slip off the ridge, which at the time led me to the thought that it would be really bad to be here with shoes you didn't trust, so a quick thank you to Scott for making good ones :)

So, that's another thing crossed off the "To do by end of season" list! Next, "try all the bars in St Martin"...

PS. The runs are here on Strava if anyone wants to head the same way!
Pointe de Diallant
Creve Tete

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