The day had all the makings of a potential classic. Fourteen enthusiastic students, two mountain guides and two teachers. As it had snowed the previous couple days, it was decided to use the readily available ski resorts of Villars rather than spend time traveling elsewhere.
So we set off on a sunny day with no clouds and a good top up of snow. After a few runs warming up and playing at the edge of the piste to check the group’s ability, we decide to head over to start our journey. We ski through the system to Les Chaux and descend the off-piste on the northwest face. Everyone is skiing well and those who find it difficult, make up for it with enthusiasm.
We ski the nice north face off piste into the Coufin. There we take a few minutes changing from downhill skiing to uphill ski touring mode. “Remember, the key to touring is being comfortable,” so we replace helmets for caps, goggles for sunglasses, and take our soft shell jackets off. The guides set off at an ‘Aiglon pace’, and all the team seem in a good mood and we snake a steady line up through the slopes. There is nothing quite like a nicely placed ski touring track in the snow, there is something artistic about it. However, it also carries a pressure that others may use your track to get to the same summit.
At the forty-five minute mark a few students begin to slow and the summit of La Croix comes into view five minutes later. We all arrive at the summit and relax (or collapse). After the infamous Aiglon Expedition sandwich and cereal bar, we take a group photo. It was now that guides point the further peak of Pointe d’Arpille and a small dot of another tourer on the summit about to enjoy some awesome untouched powder.
“Can we go there?” ask two students.
The guides and staff are impressed, we explain that it would take another fifty-sixty minutes and another 250m of ascent, this was met with enthusiasm and cheers of no problem. Wow! So the group split: one guide, two expeditioners and seven students head on further. They take it all in their stride and reach the summit after forty-five minutes. They are all pleased with themselves and look forward to skiing some untouched snow.
We descend a beautiful slope, and without out too many rolls or double ejections. At the bottom we turn around to admire our lines. Perfect. We then ski out ot the Col de la Croix road and make a straight line to the buvette for a well deserved chocolat chaud.
All in all, perfect.
Written by Tim Milner, Head of Junior School Expeditions