5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
Extract yourself from the amazing hut in good time as your skin faces E, so sees early sun.
Hopefully if you time it right you will get it as it begins to soften, but before it is too soft, slow and warm.
Reverse your tracks from yesterday, heading gently up through pretty forest, steepening as you go past the disused Maison de Chamois at about 2100m.
It soon flattens off above here, where your track deviates from yesterday's down track.
Head W then S more steeply, heading towards the Tete du Chien.
Pass to its R, on an obvious bench, then go between the Tete du Chien and an obvious craggy spot height 2392m.
This brings you into the main valley leading up to the Col du Vallon at 2645m.
It is all downhill from here to your original start point in Nevache village.
It is a beautiful open valley without any undue difficulty.
At some point you will almost inevitably have to transition to walking down the steep footpath, as it faces S.
In mid/late March 2019 we did this at about 1900m and it was a leisurely 40 min walk back to the car park. If you have more energy from the col and want to extend your tour there are a few options.
Both of these avoid the steep footpath descent at the bottom of the standard tour described above, but end up in the main Claree river valley, higher up than Nevache.
This will take you onto the road you skinned in on, a few days previously.
This too may have patchy snow cover.
An obvious ski peak accessible from the Col du Vallon is the Pic du Lac Blanc, ascending the sometimes wind scoured ridge, to the L of Lac Blanc in ascent.
You can ski down on the opposite side of the ridge from spot height 2935m, or continue to the summit itself.
Possibly involving less ski carrying, if this route is scoured, is the skin up the Col du Grand Clos, immediately to its S.
A further option would be to skin up the uniform NE facing slope from Lac du Chatelard, further S again.
All of these follow obvious descent routes on the far side of the ridge to the Claree valley far below, then down the road to Nevache.
A great 4 day circuit of the massif!