Tic, Tac, Tic, Tac! Winter is here, snow too, hihihi! I couldn't wait to put my skis back on and finally test ... ski touring. A great first for me. I practice the mountains whenever I can, and I've been skiing since I was 6 years old. The red and black slopes are by far my favorite! But this is the opportunity to break the milestones and discover new areas on skis. Here is an exciting micro-adventure with tips to experience a real good time in the winter mountains.
In a few words
Place of departure : Ascou - Arrival: Pic du Tarbésou
Difficulty : average
Duration: ½ day
Type: Round trip
Menu : IGN TOP 25: 2248ET Axat Querigut
The local council
- At the start, the race is located in the Ascou Pailhères ski area, skiers have priority, for everyone's safety, stay well next to the ski slopes.
- At the top the snow is often icy, provide the knives.
The Classic summit of Tarbesou (2m)
“THE” classic outing to start ski touring: it's “Tarbesou”! A rather simple ascent, a measured effort and an extraordinary panorama!
Here I am on my first ski touring outing with my friend Guillaume. We stop by the locals store to rent the gear that I try quickly, I'm so impatient! Here we are at Ascou Pailhères station. Let's go for a half-day of snow filled. Getting out of the car, we take advantage of the coolness of winter, which invigorates our faces and nostrils. Simple pleasure, just happiness!
Equip yourself: knives, skins ...
Seal skins, wedges, knives, ARVA (Avalanche Victim Search Device), shovel, probe, airbag bag! Here is a vocabulary that I discovered during this first ski touring outing. Fortunately I rented all this equipment and Guigui took the time to explain to me how the ARVA works.
ARVA, shovel, probe: essential equipment
Before leaving, plan: ARVA, shovel, probe, and why not the airbag bag in addition. Cross-country skiing requires knowledge of the mountains and of snow science (study of the snowpack). Before an outing, it is important to test your ARVA * with your rope companions by training for research.
More precise info on the ANENA website: National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.
To prepare your trip in detail, visit the website of the FFME.
Before our race, we took 45 minutes to test the equipment to familiarize myself with the tools. Several times, he hid his ARVA in the snow which I had to search with mine, then the probe, then the shovel.
We equip the skis with their skins on the skis to be able to climb and off we go for our ascent of about 680m.
Let's go !
The departure is from the station by taking the sides of the slopes, on this day the station is still closed.
We arrive at the parking lot called ambulance which can also be a starting point. It can save twenty minutes and avoid the station. This is also where the Mounégou ski lift is located where the shadow is always on us. We continue. Finally the sun comes to warm our faces. We start to climb to the left of the Régalécia ski lift and the Fontnere slope, a slightly steep slope, where I learn to put the climbing blocks on my bindings. Very practical, they allow you to add height and compensate for the slope. Basically it reduces the effort.
But THE great discovery, my favorite! Conversions, my flexibility as a footballer is absolutely not up to the task… pffff for me, a real pain to achieve !!!
Fortunately, the snow is good and Guigui keeps track which facilitates my progress until pla de mounégou. We advance by going to the right on the wide ledge which leads to the summit, at the beginning the slope is quite gentle then the end a little steep, especially as the snow conditions become more and more difficult.
Despite the sun, the wind freezes our faces, and the snow is completely “crusted”, so I am learning to use knives. Once at the top, you don't hang around, it's so cold. We take off our gloves to better remove the skins from the skis. I am so tense by the cold and concentrated on the material that we can not ask me anything more, I even forget to take a photo as the cold seizes us?
An unparalleled belvedere and space of freedom
The summit of Tarbesou is one of the most beautiful belvederes in Ariège, a 360 ° C view of the pre-Pyrenees with the Tabes massif and the Pic du Saint Barthélémy. You can also observe the Canigou, the Dent d'Orlu, the Rulhe peak, the Roc Blanc,…. and the ponds of rabassolles frozen for the winter occasion.
That day, at the top, the time is not for daydreaming and contemplation, but having gone there several times in winter and summer, Tarbesou is one of my top 5.
So here we are ready to go. We put the shoes and bindings in downhill mode and we slide gently on the ice. Arrived on the small ledge below, I realize that I have made the cardio work well throughout the ascent! My thighs were very hot, were used. What my friend hadn't told me was that you had to manage your effort on the climb to make the most of the descent. I can feel my legs shaking a lot but the brain takes over.
Besides, afterwards I watched videos on Youtube to learn how to start ski touring! I put here a video that I found quite good!
We begin THE descent into the valley below. I'm there ! I am making my first traces ! In this valley the conditions are excellent. It feels like cotton.
No noise, the dream, we ride and we hardly hear the snow fly, our turns are noiseless, our edges do not cut the snow as we can hear in the resort. This feeling of floating in such excellent snow, in these large spaces is really exhilarating. If I had to define what pure happiness is, freedom, well, I just did.
We take a “cereal bars” break at the foot of the summit, where the wind has calmed down, the Pailhères pass and the Mounegou flat offer a space worthy of the far North. Some come from elsewhere to do snowkite when conditions are good. We head back to the resort by taking the ungroomed Moorish black slope that day, a pure descent in the cool.
My first climb and my first turns in ski touring were trying but so exhilarating !!! The feelings of happiness of freedom were so superior to the pains of my thighs and blisters that today this activity is part of my life. As soon as it snows, the spatulas wriggle and we'll go out while waiting for the stations to open. During the holidays or the weekends it is also a way to take advantage of the virgin, silent spaces, and of sliding.
And the question that we ask ourselves very often, when do we put on our shoes?