Pointe de la Lune or Punta di Ceresole, 3777m . Gran Paradiso range. « We skied on the moon….»
I found this couloir on Pointe de la Lune during a ski excursion with some clients of mine the previous winter. It’s located on the eastern ridge of “Gran Paradiso”or “Cresta Gastaldi”. The past weeks has seen the foehn blowing hard in Chamonix valley and it was obvious that there was a lot of precipitation falling on the Piemonte. This was confirmed by following the weather systems on the forecast websites.
After a few days skiing in the Cervinia area and a warm up on some steep slope in the Vanoise, I sent a text message to my friend Glen:
“I am going to try a new thing tomorrow in Gran Paradiso, are you coming along???”
The classic approach would be via the "bivacco Ivrea" located at the bottom of our mountain, but we would have had a long walk in carrying our skis on our backpacks for at least three hours, so we choose another route via the Teleccio dam and Val Piantonetto where there is a road going up to 1917m, easing access.
Less walking, more skiing is our motto!
We swap our walking shoes for touring boots & skins at the Pontese hut at 2200m. Then skin up to the Becchi pass at 2989m. We have to cut a trail through 20-30cms of deep powder. At the pass we descend to the “bivacco Ivrea”. This is simply amazing powder, powder & more powder!
Our shelter is a yellow half barrel which could sleep 9 people if everyone liked each other a lot! Glen's dinner was chicken “Colombo” & for me, chili con carne. All freeze dried, “junk” kind of “gastro-romantic” dinner…
We wake up at 6am, take off at 7am and are at the bottom of the couloir by 8am and standing on the summit by 9.30am - we aren’t “faffing around”. Parts of the couloir are on corn snow and we have to ski them before the shade returns to give the best conditions. The view from the top is just stunning looking all the way far to the South to the Maritime and Ligurian Alps.
Heading off the skiing is amazing corn snow on the left and powder snow on the right! We had to take our skis off just once for a short down climb into a snowy chimney. The steepness is about 40 to 45° with some pitches around 50°, may be a bit more. Some of the slopes are large overhanging cliff bands making it an especially beautiful ski. I feel a very special steep skiing “ambiance” there. At the bottom of the couloir we ski more amazing powder all the way back to the bivacco Ivrea.
From there we have a one hour skin back up to the Becchi pass before the final slopes home; hundreds of turns in perfect powder, slaloming around big boulders covered in snow like magic mushrooms. Only the last 100m turns into breakable crust, which is just enough to make our legs ache at the end of the day! Back at the Pontese hut, after 2000 meters of powder in two days, we are back in the normal world.
Pointe de la Lune on Punta di Ceresole, 3777 m .
South East Couloir, 1st ski descent 20 November 2011 by Rémy Lécluse et Glen Plake.
600 meters. 40 à 45° with some parts at 50° Grade: 5.2 E3
Rémy thanks: Arc’teryx, Dynastar & Grivel