TOUR GUIDE: ROCHE ROBERT FROM PONT DE L'ALPE

Grab the skins, touring skis or split board and head for the quieter hills. Going slackcountry off the lifts or backcountry where the only lift is the one on your tech binding, our crew embark on classic and new routes, report on conditions, capture the views and make first tracks.

Ski touring from Pont de L'Alpe to the Roche Robert - and it's spring watch with marmots, Ibex and bouquetin.

I'm always a little concerned at touring from Pont de L'Alpe, especially on a Sunday as it can be very busy - and so it was by the time we arrived at 08:00.

When I say busy, about 30 people in various groups going up - but the groups soon spread out and went off in different directions. A guide friend, who I acted as a taxi for yesterday, advised me about the route we took as he saw how good the snow was when he was up that way on Wednesday. But he did warn that as it was east facing and an early start was required as the snow would very quickly soften up.

It was only Elaine and me plus the dogs heading that way to be later joined by a family on tour.

As we left the main routes and headed towards Roche Robert I had two options to take, neither are recognised randonee routes hence the lack of people heading that way. And it turned out that the French family was led by the dad who was a very experienced dude who knew his stuff leaving the family where we had stopped to then do some serious climbing around the Roche Robert.

Before we had started the main part of the climb the dogs heard the alarm call whistles of marmots, and that was it, they were off - all a little embarrassing as it's not exactly PC but then they are never going to catch them as the marmot whistle is the equivalent of 'dive, dive, dive' as they disappear into their underground dens.

Once we could go no higher on the ridge I spotted a very large Ibex. He was not at all afraid. In fact, I became a little concerned that he might take umbrage at the dogs invading his territory, and he certainly was not about to relinquish his territory. Once we were doing our own thing having our picnic he turned his back on us and concentrated on looking down the valley.

As we were preparing to start our descent, the family arrived and started pointing to the rocks above us where a bouquetin (large cow like deer) was looking down on us.

Descent was sublime in superb spring snow, though it was all over rather quickly.

If the weather holds we will do the right hand route of the Roche Robert tomorrow as that goes slightly higher.

Dogs now well and truly knackered, crashed out on the patio in nigh on 30 degrees in the sunshine. 

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