5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
A wonderful journey on mellow terrain, with ample opportunity to spot the many steeper couloirs and faces around the head of the Les Avals valley.
Perfect for spring days or in light, cold and fluffy powder! From the Chanrossa or Roc Merlet chairs take the long traverse under the NE face of the Roc Merlet until under 3 little towers of rock.
From here either bootpack or skin 10 minutes up to the obvious snowy shoulder.
Skins off here and descend past the Refuge des Lacs Merlet towards the Lac du Pêtre - in spring conditions you can traverse right to gain some ground here.
When you grind to a halt skin south up the wide open bowl until you pass the Aiguille du Rateau on your left, from here trend leftwards to the obvious col between the Aiguille du Rateau and Roche Nue (while checking out the many steeper lines to be skied round the head of the bowl...).
From the Col du Rateau ski down Northwards towards the Lac du Rateau and on down the Combe du Rateau to the Chalets de la Grande Val - lots of variations possible here to either find cold snow or good spring snow... From the Chalets de la Grande Val 2 minutes of sidestepping will bring you back on to the classic Les Avals descent - care is needed when passing the bottom of the canyon South of the Grande Val cliffs depending on avalanche risk.
A bit of poling, some walking and skating will eventually bring you out at Les Granges where you can rejoin the lift system.
(The masochist can start from here and skin all the way up Les Avals, branching right just before the Chalets de la Grande Val to skin up to the Lac du Pêtre.)