6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
A brilliant spring ski tour, best enjoyed once the road is open up to Plan Fournier.
Sadly this is also a prime example of the disappearing mid-elevation glaciers in the Alps as the Glacier de la Vuzelle is no more.
Known locally as the ‘Dame Eternelle’ due to the shape of the névé that remains in summer, local legend has it that if the Dame Eternelle disappears the end of the world is nigh (very topical in 2020!). From the snow gate at Vers Saut or from the road-head at or above Plan Fournier (depending on chassis height and adventurous spirit) follow the general line of the summer footpath up to the Col de la Vuzelle (2403m) and Refuge du Grand Bec - the stream crossing at 1940m may need some care as generally the footbridge is stripped out for the winter, and if the snow has melted to this level nimble footwork is needed. From the col head up gently rolling slopes into the bowl/valley of the ex-glacier.
The slopes steepen up and crampons will most likely be needed up through the choke the Dame Eternelle’s ‘waistline’.
Continue up slightly easing slopes to the summit of the Pointe du Vallonet with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.
Timing will be everything in spring-time for the descent and some compromise may need to be made between firmer snow up high and good spring further down.
The descent roughly follows the line of ascent, with plenty of variation possible to search out the best snow.