Tour of Mont Thabor March 2012

By Kevin

Mont Thabor is situated in SE France near the Italian border the area is liberally supplied with huts well away from commercial ski developments and with moderate altitudes up to 3000m it makes an ideal early season ski touring area. Our tour took started from Valfrejus over the Col Fontaine Froid to the Magi hut then over a couple of cols with a steep ski down over recent avalanche debris to the very comfortable Ricou Hut and a pleasant local beer in the evening sun. The next day was pretty wild with snow and strong wind. We made an attempt on Pic Lac Blanc but it was really a non starter and we spent a pleasant afternoon having lunch round the wood fire in the hut. Next day we climbed the Rocher de Grande Tempete which had quite a sporty ridge to finish followed by a long moderate ski down to the dreary Drayeres hut with good conditions thanks to the previous days snow. The following morning dawned clear and crisp with fantastic views towards the Ecrins. It was very pleasant skinning up the fresh snow to the col which gave the first views of Mont Thabor. There followed a short ski down and another short ascent followed by a very steep traverse necessitating the use of harsheisen (ski crampons) to grip the hard base under the recently fallen powder. It was warm on the final ascent to the summit but the weather remained very clear as we skied down towards the Thabor hut down a steepish couloir and into a bowl below. The hut was situated below a small cliff and it was quite awkward to find given most skiers reluctance to loose height too early but after another short steep descent we picked up a couple of large cairns leading to the hut. We did better than a hapless Frenchman who, unable to find it, had spent the previous night in an igloo. The hut was very comfortable considering the entrance had only recently been dug out of the snow. We settled down some well earned beers but realised too late that we were drinking 7.5% beer from Brittany. The ensuing trip to get water from a hole in the ice of a frozen lake by moonlight was a hilarious affair. Next day the weather closed right in with very thick mist but fortunately after skirting a small cliff the valley funnelled us back down to several chalets we had identified on the map and we then picked up a long easy run back to Valfrejus. It was an excellent few days in the mountains with good company, snow, weather and food.