Wanted, evaded taxi fare for one canine from St Christophe to La Grave! We acquired a canine friend on the t-bar ride to 3500 he was gaining on us galloping up a 30 degree slope – what was he training for?The cirque of peaks at the head of the Vallon de Diable is impressive. It inspires awe. It gives you that big mountain, little me feeling that causes you to forget the day to day clutter of your life. The effect is calming. Most of the snow of the last storms has blown off the Northern flanks of La Grave and been deposited generously (it would seem just for our purposes) as powder on the classic southerly slopes leading to St Christophe. A few Skiers’ Lodge teams are storming the ‘pow’ but there’s plenty of room for everyone. There’s a kind of carnival atmosphere! The powder’s knee deep up top and thins to a fine plush pile carpet at the bottom of our 1000 metre run.
As we gather our breath and gaze with pride back up at our transient snow-signatures; our canine friend comes charging down the slope choosing a clean powder line. The walls either side as we ski out the valley bottom are lined with alpine-bling. There are ice falls for almost all climbing abilities at regular intervals. We spotted a handful of climbers clawing their way up one of the shady classic routes. On the flats our pooch friend charges ahead and nearly trips me up.The route meanders down the valley for some kilometres before we finally slide our way past the church into the quaint, one horse village of St Christophe.
Back in La Grave as we eject all our gear from the taxi, the dog bounds out of the boot and heads straight for the Castillan Bar. The run was so good that the only thing to do to improve the day was to make another lap – and that’s exactly what we did. Lisa Auer – Mountain and Ski Guide