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Snowshoeing in the French Alps (April 2006)





Ty at the starting point of the GR5 trail in St Gingolph.







The snow was much deeper than we anticipated so we were going to return to St Gingolph to buy some snowshoes. On the way back, in the small village of Novel, we met a trail runner who told us that we wouldn't find snowshoes in St Gingolph and he told us that he'd sell us his used ones for a fair price. He ran all the way home and drove back to Novel where we anticipated his return. We were glad to see that the snowshoes he sold us for 50 Euros were good quality and were well suited for what we intended to do. Many thanks to Christian the trail runner!! :)



When Tracy and I attempted this hike in 2005 we weren't even halfway finished after 17 days. Although I doubt this sign's accuracy, I also suspect that we are simply incredibly slow hikers :)



Tyson observing the devastating destruction of a recent avalanche.



This picture was taken shortly after we started snowshoeing. You can see the depth of the snow by relation to the height of the poles. We hoped that the snow wouldn't get any deeper but in some parts further on it was more than 3 meters deep!



We had to be very careful not to walk under potential avalanches



It was starting to get dark and we still hadn't found a safe place to camp for the night



We finally decided that the safest place to camp would be on top of a mountain ridge since you can't be hit by an avalanch if you are on TOP of it :) Some might argue with our logic but it seemed like a good idea at the time and although we had to melt the snow for drinking and cooking water, we both slept like babies.



The snow was so deep that I couldn't hit the bottom no matter how far I pushed my pole into the ground. We had to pack the snow down with our snowshoes before we could camp there.



There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning, taking a deep breath of mountain air, and experiencing a view like this when you look outside your tent door.



It was incredibly steep on the way down to the mountain pass and we were very cautious. Next time I think we'll bring some rope!



It's funny, you'd think a mother would appreciate a nice picture of her son, but instead I got whapped upside the head!



My absolute favorite picture from the entire trip!



Can you guess where the avalanche hit?



When we finally got into the valley we saw and heard an avalanche happen a few km from where we were standing. It was a good reminder that we had come in the wrong season.



These signs are generally 6-7 feet high.



Crystal clear water!



Although we came to the alps to attempt the GR5 from Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) to the Mediterranean, we hadn't expected there to be so much snow and such high avalanche risks. After 3 days of snowshoeing we decided it would be prudent to stop hiking in the Alps and start a different trek along the Mediterranean.

This was my second attempt at the GR5 trail, and my third will hopefully be soon! Anyone interested? (chris@picturica.com) :)


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