The beginning of this season in the alps can only be described as grim. While I love staying positive, there is no other way to put it! No storms and warm temps is depressing in December.
However, thanks to huge snowstorm that ripped through Chamonix, my winter base, was finally sorted out with some snow. But not every storm is just face shots and pow turns. There were giants lurking beneath the surface after such a long dry-spell and sadly some of those giants took good friends and many others away.
Everyone approaches the snowy and dangerous conditions differently but my instinct was to do my best to extract myself from the situation. So myself and some friends headed up to the sunny side of the Chamonix valley to ski low-angle terrain and have some hut time at the Refuge de Loriaz.
The Refuge is a 1-2 hour ski tour from Le Buet train station just a 30 minute train ride up the valley from the town centre. Despite an easy skin track, I had yet to test out my touring set up for the season and suffered all kind of early season ski touring fails. From skins that stuck to the wet snow, to ice covered ski edges and unwaxed skis, I managed a little bit of everything that curses unprepared backcountry travellers. Luckily, I had everything else sorted and a credit card slowly, but surely, helped me sort out my skis and skins. Thank the ski gods for patient ski touring partners :D.
After making it to the refuge through an aesthetic range of tree-filled, scenic hiking trails, we stored our gear and checked out our accommodations for the evening.
The refuge is open in both the summer and winter season and at time can host over 60+ guests. On that evening it was just the four of us, so we got first dibs on the cosy bunk bed just above the main hut.
After a spot of lunch, we went off to explore the peaks above the hut. After a sunny start to the morning a high cloud descended upon us and left us in a thick fog for most of the ascent. After struggling through clouds and an icy skin track we finally made it to the top to claim our prize- a sweet view and a nice, yet slightly rocky ride down to the hut.
After the light got low, there was nothing left to do except relax, make tea and play board games. This is one of my favourite things about hut skiing— After skiing, all that is required is a whole lot of relaxing.
Usually hut trips require an early start but with the warm temps during the day and a clear night, we made sure we had an extended breakfast before heading out to mince around in the sun.
So we spent a great two days walking about, eating snow and drinking wine. Of course we could have been off hunting serious lines but the rush would never have been worth the risk. Instead I got 2 days in the sun with some seriously awesome friends!