I headed up to the St Grand Bernard Monastery last week with Laura, Matt and Chris. The skin up was nice and relaxed on Thursday, although a little warm it was technically easy and a good firm track was in place all the way up as it is clearly a popular location. It is advisable to start early though as there is some steep ground either side of the track that could slide. The monastery is a great location and not like a normal alpine hut, we had a 4 person room to ourselves, enjoyed a look around the museum, had a short presentation on the history of the monastery, a great meal and a good night sleep!
On Friday we skied a short distance back down the track and then cut off towards the Col de Barasson. Ski touring is all about being on the right slopes at the right time for both skiing pleasure and avalanche safety. On the way up to the col it was clear that the snow higher up on north facing slopes did not have a crust to support skis and we were a little concerned about the slope stability. This lead us to cut the ascent short and head down a little early, the ski down from 2600m to 2300m was unpleasant but below 2300m was excellent, nice firm spring snow. Not far from the car we came across a large avalanche that was not there the day before that had crossed the tracks we followed on the way up, a good indicator that an early start is a good idea.
Although the ski down was not as good as we would have like it was a great trip and I am sure I will be back as there are lots of options from the monastery and it is such a calm and peacful place to spend a night.