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Mont Velan 3727m

Spring Approach To Mont Velan Up The Valosorey Valley

We parked at 'Cordonna' just above 1800m and walked to the fine open flat meadows at the junction of the Velan & Vasorey approaches at around 2100m. From here a pleasant skin lead up to the impressive battleship prow like Velan Hut!

Post Dawn Start Leaving The Velan Hut

With the Grand Combin dominating the view on the far side of the Valsorey Valley. The descent is mainly north facing so an early but not really early start is taken (0500 breakfast in early May).

Steep Couloir To Exit The Upper Glacier De Valsorey

A magnificent position across the Valsorey Valley from the Valsorey Hut and Grand Combin

Lovely Spring Approach To The Velan Hut

An hours walking gave us views of boffling Marmots and herds of young Chamois. Just after the bridge here, skis were put on and another 1.5 hours of skinning took us up to Velan Hut Base Camp.

Final Snowy Ridge Approach To The Velan Hut (2642m)

With the impressive North Face of Mont Velan beyond - and the huge seracs that guard this face and threaten the traverse underneath them the next day en route to the Col de la Gouille.

Fine Views Of Lac Leman Down The Rhone Valley From The Velan Hut

With the Dents des Midi on the left of the valley (West) and Dent de Morcles on the right (East). The windows of the Velan Hut all have great views to the nearby Velan & Grand Combin and further afield towards the Rhone and over to the Eastern end of the Mt Blanc Massif.

A Smoky Wood Fire & Good Food Await At The Velan Hut

An excellent base camp for skiing & climbing on Mont Velan as well as various other cols and tours in the area. This hut can be linked with various others like the Valsorey, Grand St. Bernard Hospice and Pannossiere to give fine hut to hut tours also.

Post Dawn Traverse From Velan Hut To Col de la Gouille

This traverse under the north face of Mont Velan is the first of numerous varied sections on the ascent of Velan's Voie normale.

Steady Skinning Ascent To The Col de la Gouille

With the North Face of Mont Velan Beyond

Ascent Of The West Side Of The Col de la Gouille (3150m)

This provides a short snowy rock step which can feel awkward with ski boots and skis on pack. In less snowy conditions chains and arrows are sometimes to be seen although in May 2016 there was nothing like that.

Snowy Second Pitch Up To Col De La Gouille

 

Glacier De Valoserey Continuation From Col De La Gouille

The descent of the Col de la Gouille on the East side was steep snowy down climbing for us today, although some teams lowered / abseiled. No chains were in evidence and there was a good snowy track, but the slope is steep and exposed with cliff bands below. The continuation from the base of this slope leads up the Glacier de Valsorey.

The Clouds Descended & We Missed The Famous Velan Summit View!

Care is required with navigation in poor visibility as the summit plateau is large and fairly featureless and whilst we had planned to explore the steep couloirs on the West face we were content to follow our tracks back down the north side of the mountain.

Atmospheric Conditions On The Upper Valsorey Glacier

Lower down the choice is made between re-tracing tracks back over the Col de la Gouille to the Glacier Tseudet or descending the steep NE facing coloir on the lower right bank of the Valsorey Glacier. As snow conditions were good in May 2016 we chose the latter option.

Superb Steep Sustained Skiing In The Lower Couloir Of The Glacier De Valsorey

This couloir provides a key link between the upper and lower glacier and is a crucial route finding element of the descent. The entrance to the couloir can be seen from the Col de la Gouille and whether there are tracks leading in to it. The guardian of the Velan Hut will also know conditions so worth checking before departing the hut.

Lovely Open Spring Snow Slopes

Low down below the Glacier de Valoserey and just before joining back up with the hut approach route.