View from the Cabane to the peak we skied up to on our first afternoon (marked by a black dot above the Cross)
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title
Several years ago we did a tour with a favorite mountain guide of ours (Rick Marchant) to the Cabane with the objective of staying over and skinning up to a col adjacent to Grand Combin the following day. As it was quite a short skin up to the hut Rick suggested we make more of a day of it and skin up to the cross (marked by a black dot) in the photo above. I have really fond memories of this trip in 2008 with Mike and Rick (my first overnight hut experience in the Alps) so when I found the photos decided to include them with this post. I can remember it all being hard (hot) work, probably not helped by bad blisters! However, the views were worth the effort and really glad that we found some fantastic untracked cold snow to ski the following day after we decided to abort the slog to the Col we had initially targeted.
We had not been back since but as the weather was set fine with no wind we thought this would be a great place (the Cabane) to revisit. A key reason for our choice is that the trail goes up through a well established forest at a steady gradient, but one returns down an access road to the Cabane and the small summer farming hamlet of Tongne. The snow we had earlier in the week has now been followed by a very warm spell resulting in melted snowpack up to about 2500m, rendering off piste skiing not much fun (breakable crust higher up and heavy wet snow lower down) and an avalanche risk on the upper side of considerable (3). So given the snow conditions this was a perfect tour!
There is a good sized parking area at the trail head (which was nearly full when we arrived) and the ski tour is well signed off the access road. It is a steady but not steep trail up and for a large portion we did not need to have our risers up. The views across to the Verbier ski area and surrounding mountains are fantastic. Allowing for plenty of photo /video opportunities and water stops but no ‘proper’ breaks we took 2 hours for the ascent without rushing.
The hut was as remembered and the view of Petit Combien was outstanding. It was fantastic to see so many other tourers up there enjoying the beautiful weather. Sarnies and tea went down a treat followed by a beer – we decided not to skin up to the cross on the small hill above the Cabane (as I had thought we might) as the snow was so horrible! Small panic that Mike had lost a favourite glove which fortunately we found and then the long snowplow down the road. Not the best ski down as in many places there were frozen ruts from the sledge used by the Cabane to bring supplies up and ski tracks. However, we took our time and admired the views. A really lovely day.
Slide show of our photos from our first visit to this area