May 2021 has so far bought huge amounts of fresh snow to the Alps. Not wanting to let the powder go to waste, MINT Snowboarding founder Tammy and a friend, Fiona, made the most of it with an overnight splitboard hut trip to the Col du Grand Saint Bernard in the Swiss – Italian alps.
If you’ve not heard of it, the Col du Grand Saint Bernard is a dream splitboard destination, situated at 2469m on the Swiss / Italian border and home to one of the most comfortable mountain refuges you will find in the alps! The Hospice is a 10th century monastery, which is still run by monks who offer you a warm welcome, can only be reached by skis in winter. The location is stunning up in the high mountains, surrounded by endless peaks suitable for ascents on splitboards plus excellent ski-touring routes on both the Swiss and Italian sides of the frontier. There is enough snowboard terrain here to last you a season’s stay on the col!
With only a short good weather window and knowing that temperatures don’t stay low for long as this time of year, we set off very early on the first day with the aim of riding Mont Fourchon. After a couple of hours of splitboarding we reached the col, where we popped into the Hospice to drop off some overnight stuff. We then traversed the lake on the col and descended into the Italian side where you ride through a long road tunnel (which was icy as hell!). Once through it is another 600m of up to get to the summit of Mont Fourchon at 2901m. Despite the bluebird day, the air temperature remained relatively low and we were stoked to get to snowboard perfect powder on the descent.
After a short splitboard back up to the hospice we were surprised to find that we were their only guests that night. Usually you have to book in early to stay at the hospice, but this year the world is far from normal. This meant that there was not the usual race for hot showers and we later enjoyed huge portions of a simple, yet delicious, 3 course meal.
The next day strong winds and a new weather system were forecast meaning that a big itinerary was not feasible. Instead we stuck to a safer option, heading up the combe de Barasson and scoped out an exciting line for a future trip. We still managed to get in some nice, fresh turns down from the col, with the whole valley to ourselves, before riding back down to the car.
The area around the Grand St Bernard pass is perfect for multi-day hut to hut splitboard / ski tour with a range of terrain suitable for people who wish to gain more splitboard touring experience as well as those looking for more challenging descents. Get in touch if you would like to find out more about organising a private splitboard hut trip with our IFMGA / UIAGM Mountain Guide.