Katy’s Blog: The Gliere Bowl

There’s a particular ski area in Chamonix which, until recently, I’d not skied at. Brevent is so close to town it’s not worth driving to and you have to pay to park – but also there’s a rather strenuous hill you have to walk up in your ski boots, carrying your skis which puts a few of us off. But one afternoon in Flegere whilst doing some off-piste from the Lachenal run, I spotted a very nice line coming through a Col from Brevent and enquired what it was…

A week or so later, armed with the essential kit of avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe, myself and two friends set off to attempt the off=piste route which links Brevent and its neighbour Flegere by a high level ridge traverse. The route had 120m of ascent and 800m downhill, but was graded as not serious/quite easy. Our book also said the ‘Col de la Gliere’ wasn’t too far off the beaten track, with the hike up from the Col Cornu chairlift taking about 15 minutes if the path had already been broken.

It was a very cold but clear day and we skied from the Lac Cornu chairlift down the Charlanon run for a few meters before climbing up opposite a ski patrol hut where we reached a rounded ridge. Huffing and puffing and overtaken by some gnarly ski tourers who skinned up, I was rewarded with some breathtaking views – it was as if no human had passed by this way before!  We followed the path right to the Col du Lac Comu and traversed right under the Aiguille Poume to the Col de la Gliere.

At the top of Gliere Bowl

At the top of Gliere Bowl

This in fact took about 45 minutes (rather than the quoted 15), as my bag wasn’t really suitable for strapping skis to and I had a bit of a wobble on a section of the traverse our book had warned us about (high avalanche risk after a big snowfall, notably on the traverse under the Aiguille Poume). There had indeed been an avalanche down this section. Any slip and I would have been off after it, which made me pause at a rocky section with a very narrow foot placement. I just couldn’t work out how to step down safely!

A trackless Gliere bowl emerged, just asking us to ski it. Our snowboarder friend went first making the initial lines, I nervously went second, traversing left then down with legs burning from the hike up and not quite wanting to let go and glide without a few turns, then my more confident friend followed me on skis. And it continued all the way down to the Combe Lachenal and the Flegere chairlift.

A run like that needs no more skiing afterwards – it’s satisfying enough – so we headed home. I was happy to have been pushed a little out of my comfort zone, but not too much and keen to do some real ski touring before the season is over.

Katy Dartford

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