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~ Friday 18th April 2014

This is the "short" Patrouille des Glaciers course, with 2000m of ascent in 26km straight-line distance. Amazingly, with so little snow around, the course is actually in great condition and looking good for the race in 2 weeks time.

The piste from Arolla is steep and a bit like skinning up a sheet of glass in the early morning. Ski crampons helped. At the Col de Riedmatten it's a different story - the slope up to the col is almost dry and easy walking on the summer footpath.

Getting down the Dixence side will be equipped with ropes for the race, but at the moment it's steep cramponning on hard snow. Apparently it's already decided that the race transition will be right down on the glacier this year - there's barely enough snow to ski the lower slopes through the boulders.

Skiing down the Pas du Chat was fast on hard snow yesterday, with quite a few Haute Route teams skinning in the other direction. Snow was so hard low down that some were cramponning up from the lake.

From Pas du Chat to la Barmaz is flat, but surprisingly long...

Climbing up past la Barmaz.

The Rosablanche couloir has plenty of snow in it so we skinned the whole way.

Then there's a fast easy ski down the Rosablanche, a tiring skate to the col, more skiing (on nice spring snow at last) and a final quick climb to the Col de la Chaux before skiing slushy pistes to Verbier. The Verbier pistes are pretty thin but still complete all the way to Médran.

That's nearly 6 bottles of wine!