Arve Valley Ski Touring

2 January 2021, Le Môle Ski Tour, Arve Valley

Various storm events over the Christmas holidays left the welcome present of thick blankets of fresh snow down to around 700m and covering much of the Aravis, Chablais and Mont Blanc Massifs to the West, East and South of the Arve Valley respectively.

It’s always a pleasure to be able to explore the lower altitude hills of the Aravis and Chablais and the prevailing conditions of decent snow cover down below 1000m and wind battered snow above 2000m meant the shapely summit of the Le Môle, towering above Bonneville in the Arve Valley, was both an aesthetic and appealing option.

The sustained climb of the South West Side of the Môle from Chez Béroud Parking (1157m)

The track above the parking at Chez Béroud, 1157m, was in good condition and provided a steady chatty ascent up to Le Petit Môle and chalet buildings at Le Lardère.  From here the sustained SW facing slopes above were still not visible due to the thick Arve Valley fog but plenty of teams were up there beetling up through various skinning tracks to reach both the summit ridge and, thankfully, the upper limit of the clag and brilliant views across the Arve Valley to the big summits of the Aravis and nearby Chablais.

The fine ridge connecting the two summits on the Môle. Looking SE from 1863m to 1861m

There were some tracks on the NE Ridge of the East summit and this gave a fun mountaineering section and could be used to access the fine NE facing slopes down below running down the East side parking at 1327m above Ossat in the Gifre Valley.  After appreciating both the remarkable summit views (and Tom’s remarkable new Black Crows fashion jacket) we set off slightly tentatively down the leanly covered summit slopes.  Turns in a great position but without a decent base due to the exposure and wind effects near the summit ridge.

Aravis Ski Tour
Fresh tracks and a great position but thin snow cover due to the exposed, windy, nature of the summit ridge on the Môle. The snow got better as we descended today…

Lower down the North West slopes leading to Plan Muelet both the snow quantity and cover increased and, despite descending back in to the mank, the trees helped give definition for some fun fall line turns for 300m to put the skins back on for a short ascent of the Tete de l’Écutieux 1627m.

Fine powder turns and fresh tracks on the north west facing descent from the summit of the Môle to Plan Muelet

Despite the consistent brouillard, the next 500m of skiing were mainly a real pleasure with open meadows, the odd tree or chalet for reference and only a very short section of minor rocky combat to reach the track down at 1110m.

Bonneville Ski Tour
The final pitch of good meadow fall line skiing on the north side of the Môle

The return track provides a pleasant snowy and gently descending first part of the low level demi circumnavigation of the Môle to return to the parking at Chez Béroud although note that return back up the road is more than a quick stroll but does nicely take the total ascent for this fine traverse of the Môle to just over 1000m.

Ski Arve Valley
Climbing the last few steps on the North East Ridge of the East Summit

Route Stats

View in full on Strava here.

Distance: 13.3km

Height Gain:  Just over 1000m

Time: 4hrs

Môle summit panoram

Options for Winter – Spring – Summer 2021 Ski & Mountaineering Courses…

In the current absence of open ski lifts, many folk have hired ski touring gear and we would be happy to do some guided or introductory ski touring & training in Chamonix / Aravis areas if you are keen to get out in to the winter hills and ski – tour – train.  There currently are some great conditions for pleasant and scenic skiing and then a variety of options to descend from cruisey piste like runs to steeper powder.

We also have spaces available on our classic Chamonix Off Piste & Ski Touring Skills course running on Jan 11-15th and combining quality input from both a ski instructor and mountain guide.

Chamonix Ski Guide
Beautiful powder smoke in the Combe Rachasses at Les Grands Montets Chamonix.

Ice climbing conditions are also rapidly improving with the sustained freezing temperatures and cascades are building in the Chamonix Valley and the Aravis.  Get in touch if you would like to get out climbing or even do some warm up dry tooling to make good use of a poorer weather day.   After more snow on Thursday night it looks like some high pressure weather is arriving with sunnier spells but remaining cool, which should give some good winter mountain conditions for both ski touring and climbing.

Cogne Ice Climbing Guide
Intro Ice Climbing

We have open group mountaineering courses including Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and Intro Alpine from early June 21 onwards and you can out dates, details, costs etc on our full list of mountain courses page here.

Let us know if we can help with some mountain adventures or training & best wishes for a very happy new year in 2021Rob

Arve Valley Ski Tour
Fine powder turns and fresh tracks on the north west facing descent from the summit of the Môle to Plan Muelet