Off Piste route to Chalet Les Lanchettes.

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This Is a report on our route from the top of Avoriaz down to the chalet on Friday 20th Jan 2006. Thanks to Jonny and Bill for the company on what turned out a fine afternoon. Once back at the Chalet some of the guests and Paul had a little session on the small kicker out the back. A great way to end the day.
When I had woke that morning it was with a feeling of dread and fear !! No, I was not worried about the adventure Jonny had planned for the afternoon but I was scared of facing my fellow guests and hosts after last nights events down in Morzine. It had all started well with a fine dinner in the Restaurant L'Etale where the wine flowed freely. I then seem to have lost the next few hours and have no recollection of getting back up to the Chalet. As it happens I had been wandering the streets of Morzine like a lost sheep after having far too much to drink. I was told that Jonny had to help me into the chalet and up the stairs where Jill was not too pleased to see the state I was in. Anyway, whether it was through politeness or something else ,at breakfast the next morning nothing was made of my drunken ways....I also felt fine and could not wait to get out onto the snow on this fine sunny morning.
We were soon at the Prodains gondola making our way up to Avoriaz. We met up with Bill and had a fine morning exploring the "snowzone" between the Choucas and Fornet chairs. The snow was excellent and any cobwebs I had in my system were soon cleared away. It was great to be out on such a fine day. It was nearing lunchtime so we headed back down to Avoriaz where we sat outside the Trappeur restaurant and had lunch.
We then got the phonecall from Jonny that he was on his way and we should meet him down at the Verare chair at Prodains.

We were soon on our way up the Verare chair and then onto the Combe du Machon chair up towards Les Hauts Forts and the highest point on the Portes du Soleil. There was a light wind blowing and the windblown snow being whipped into the air over the Arete des Intrets made a fine sight. The pink colours as the snow crystals were illuminated in the sunlight were easy to see but difficult to catch on camera.
We got off the chair and traversed round onto the steep slopes below Les Hauts Forts where we were sheltered from the wind. The snow was in good condition and the avalanche risk was low with a stable snowpack beneath us.
Our aim was to keep as high as possible as we traversed across the slope as we wanted to be able to get down to the hamlet of Morzinette.

View across the cliffs to Super Morzine sector.
Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

It was a quiet afternoon and as we left the Avoriaz patrolled area we were the only people on the mountain. It was peacefull and quiet. As this was a first attempt at the route there was a feeling of adventure and anticipation. Visibility was good,the snowpack was safe and consolidated so all that remained was some good route finding. Jonny had walked up here in the Summer so knew where we should be aiming for. We were aware of streams and waterfalls burried deep under the snow and the undulations of the powder helped to define their locations.

We had now traversed far enough and it was time to drop down slightly,allowing us some fresh untracked turns in the powder. We were getting near to the tree line and as we began to traverse further we had to be aware of small trees and branches which were just trying to trip us up.
We had some pretty steep drops down into the gullys of the many streams which flow down to the valley floor. We had to maintain our balance and speed to get up to the other side unless we wanted to unstrap and struggle through waist deep snow.
It was all hard work at times but when the untracked snow appeared in front again then the effort was all worthwhile.

A nice powder field all for me (1)
photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

Near the end of a fine run.
Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

We could by now see that we did not need to reach Morzinette in order to get the best run back down to the chalet at En Ly. To get to Morzinette would have involved a steep short uphill hike in the powder over the spur coming down from the Col du Pic a` Talon. Instead we had some nice gentle powder filled slopes down to the edge of the forest.

Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

Once we reached the edge of the forest it was easy to find our way onto the Summer walking paths. These were filled deep with untouched snow and had a nice downhill gradient where the only problem was getting round the hairpin bends. The snow was getting softer as we lost height and our legs were starting to burn as we came out in the clearance near Les Ray where we could see the chalet down below us. The next problem was trying to keep clear of the two friendly dogs who always come to meet you when you ride down to the chalet.

Nearly Home
The last powder field to the chalet.

Below are a few more pictures from our little afternoon adventure. It had been a fine little trip which I would like to do again and as long as the snow is down to the back of the chalet then it would be fine to attempt.
Please note:
This route is an off-piste backcountry trip which we undertook in good conditions after consultation with the local authorities. Do not undertake this route if un-prepared or un-equiped.
P.S. Les Lanchettes is a Haute Savoie word for Avalanche !

Below is a description of the route from Jonny
Well on Friday 20th Jan after a few aborted attempts I finally got round to doing this off-piste route back to the chalet. Accompanied by Stuart and Bill we headed out at lunch time to try the route. Conditions looked good, the snow looked good, and Stuart looked like he needed some sleep. The actual route we took was mainly the red line on the picture below, but with the orange line added in. The green line was a definate no-no unless we had rope & crampons with us.

It was a good route, a lot tougher than it looked as there were many ditches to get through, and the little 'scrub'-like trees were actually big trees blocking the path but it was well worth it. There were huge fields of untouched powder that we had to traverse across the top off, never have I been so tempted to let rip, but knowing that they ended in a large frozen waterfall kind of held me back... we were rewarded with some nice powder stashes, and a great run down the path in the trees (was like a natural mini-half pipe - just wide enough to get your turns going), and then a nice powder field back to the chalet - along with two of the friendliest dogs in the world who consider it their sole purpose in life to knock snowboarders over in the deepest flatest bits of the powder!.

Was a good day out, and one that I'll be repeating next time my local mate gives me the all clear on the snow-conditions (part of the route is a bit 'tres dangereaux').

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Bill goes for it !
Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

A climb on hands and knees.
Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

Photo courtesy of Ride&Slide,Morzine.

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