Day 3- The last Day Val to Val, Refuge de Col de la Vanoise to Val d’ Isère.
After a good meal and some sleep we departed the refuge at 6.30am. The next 5 hours were going to be the highlight of the trip. I knew that 580 meters of vertical ascent was all that stood between us and the view of our final destination from the top of the ‘Col de la Grande Casse’. We had to tackle some technically steep sections on this part of the tour. Kick turns on very steep solid ice without the added assistance of Lee & ski crampons we wouldn’t of made it up the first section. I was struggling to keep up with the pace but the girls slowed down a little for me and the scenery was just stunning. Behind us we could see the entire 3 valleys from Courchevel to Val Thorens and even our starting point, it felt so good to see what we had already achieved! The incline on the ‘Col de la Grande Casse’ couloir was 32 degrees, so it was ski’s off and boot crampons on. I loved the boot up, again hard work but very satisfying as we reached the top of the col and peered over the top. In the distance across the glacier I could see Tignes (in the Espace Killy) and the ‘Grande Motte’ cable car, it was so exciting.
The descent across and down the glacier was epic, the most amazing spring snow. It’s enormous and really highlighted how insignificant we are in comparison to the most dramatic scenery and we were part of it. Mind blowing!
We then had to change routes again due to the snow and the aspects in regards to safety, which again severely extended the distance we originally planned to travel. However this had given us a longer ski down in fantastic spring powder. We all knew we were skiing away from our final goal and the further down and away we went the further we had to go back up. Frustrating! By now it was very hot and midday, we reached the bottom of glacier and had a short rest and feed at 2000 meters before we embarked on the long undulating climb to the ‘Col du Palet’ at 2652 meters a 4.5km skin, that was to take us 5 hours of constant plodding uphill. Again difficult snow conditions to begin, crossing avalanche debris and traveling further in the wrong direction, in order to keep out of danger. The last 2 hours were the most painful of my life, digging deeper into my reserves and finding guts I didn’t know I had. All of us struggled in the heat, even Zoe and Lee who are much more accustomed to this kind of endurance found it hard. The undulating terrain meant that each time we reached a horizon there was more to go. The top seemed to move away from us, it felt like we would never make it! We did however make ‘Val Claret’ in Tignes by 5.30pm. This disappointingly meant that we had missed the lift to ‘Val d’isere’ our final destination. However we had completed the toughest endurance sections of the tour and all we missed out on was paying 99 euros for lift passes and a ski down a pisted run, so we put the lift pass money into the charity pot and called it a victory. We hope everyone that supported us will agree that a total 24 kilometers of skiing and skinning, including over 2570 vertical meters of ascent and 22.5 hours on the move was to be enough of an achievement and that ‘Val Claret’ in Tignes was to be a suitable finishing point.
This was the most difficult but rewarding expedition I have ever taken part in. I want to thank all of those that took part for their financial and more importantly emotional support. I really would not of made it without you!
you can view the rest of the images from the trip www.dynamicpictures.co.uk
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Thank you also to all those that sponsored us, every little helped me achieve our goal, You can still donate to the 3 fantastic charities
Polly is raising money for Raleigh international trust http://www.justgiving.com/Polly-A-Baldwin
Suzanne Claxton, Resort manager for Family Friendly Skiing in ‘La Tania’ her chosen charity Bernardo’s http://www.justgiving.com/Suzanne-Claxton
Jenna Shail, Owner and manager of luxury chalet holiday company come-ski.com. Jenna is fundraising for Cancer Research http://www.justgiving.com/Jenna-Shail