On Piste Experience - Night splitboard & raclette
I tested for you: the multi-activity night hiking route with On Piste
"On Piste, the perfect mobile application for a night ski touring trip"
January 2022, Croix de Chamrousse, night splitboard
Sylvain, extreme night sportsman
A little climb before going to bed
January, 6th 2022, 7.50pm. It's night time, rather cold. The sky is rather clear and from the Chamrousse resort, we can see Grenoble and the stars. It's perfect to test the On Piste mobile application.
Chamrousse has a multi-activity itinerary at night where you can safely practice ski touring and splitboarding (its snowboard equivalent) but also snooc or yooner between 6pm and 10pm. Because of its proximity to the Grenoble area, many ski touring enthusiasts come to Chamrousse, even at night.
Skiing at night poses safety problems because of the winch grooming. Indeed, the groomers work in the evening when there is theoretically no one on the ski area. On steep slopes, in order not to end up at the bottom, the groomers work with a winch, a metal cable (like some 4X4). This is not particularly visible at night and can cause serious damage to a skier encountering it on the way down. Also, the wire rope can be hidden in the snow and suddenly become taut when the groomer reaches the end. Finally, the cable can move if the groomer turns. In order to avoid any tragedy, the Chamrousse ski lift company has set up a special night-time itinerary without cables from 6pm to 10pm.
The On Piste application allows you to follow your route at night in a guided way
This is an opportunity to test Rossignol's mobile application "On Piste" dedicated to ski touring in winter. The navigation option helps you not to get lost and to stay on the route without cables. There is also information on the altitude difference, the time spent... This multi-station application is a great tool whether you are a beginner or an expert.
The departure is from Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin, at the Croix de Chamrousse gondola start.
Before leaving, of course, you must be well equipped: light, warm clothes and KNIVES! The ski-touring knife is a kind of crampon with two or three claws that is attached to the ski. It is generally used when the skins no longer provide sufficient grip on the snow.
At night, not having knives can be a problem on some steep climbs. This is particularly the case with a splitboard (because of the width of the skis when climbing). Even if they are not necessarily used, it is better to have them in the bag. A thermos with hot water is always welcome.
Once you have checked your equipment, you just need to take out your charged phone and launch the On Piste application (and this time not the Chamrousse application, which is very useful for monitoring your downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing activities, etc.). Once on the app, you have to launch the search "Chamrousse", it allows you to select one of the three available routes on the Chamrousse mountain area. I select the itinerary, download it then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!
Here we go for a short 3 km climb.
A useful application in the near dark
The guidance tool allows you to find your way around the map. The application alerts you when you stray from the set route and sometimes gives directions. The voice of the guided navigation is not too present, so it doesn't affect the pleasure of being in the middle of the night. Of course, the sound volume must not be neglected, otherwise you won't hear anything (which can also be desired by the user).
Working in Chamrousse and being a skier of all kinds, I know the night itinerary well. When the night is particularly dark, even under the moon, you can quickly lose your bearings. The On Piste application and its map allow you to be reassured and not to get lost by going away from the planned itinerary.
I was pleasantly surprised by the battery consumption: it is low compared to other applications requiring GPS (little additional information: it was -11.5°C).
A quick raclette before going back down!
Once arrived at the highest point of the resort, the "Croix de Chamrousse", it is possible to put the application on stop before going back down. I take the opportunity to admire the view from the terrace of the Croix restaurant. I put my spliboard in descent mode. But before going down, a little refreshment break is necessary.
To eat a small snack, I head for the new picnic area at the level of the piste map. Few people, it's perfect to settle down and have a raclette by candlelight. That evening, it was -13.5°C at the summit. So, I'm not going to hang around either... For the clever ones who want to have a little meal together, keep in mind that it's not warm up there so late in the night. So my girlfriend never accompanies me at night and prefers the sofa in the living room.
I warm myself up with a tea (thanks to the thermos). It's almost 10pm, so we're nearing the end of the "cable-free time slot".
On the application, I take the itinerary again, let's go for a magical descent. Don't take any risks, because it's quite icy and the headlamp has its limits. Moreover, as it's quite long to go up, I might as well make the most of each bend. The view on Grenoble and the village of Recoin, both illuminated, is splendid.
It's up to you!
The descent went well. My test is validated, the application is functional and particularly useful.
I recommend the On Piste app for everyone, whether it's a dark night or a full moon. Being able to find your way and be guided is really important.
Two other ski touring routes in Chamrousse are available on the On Piste app.
Good to know: On Piste is an app but also a website onpiste.com to facilitate the preparation and organisation of your outing or stay, and to find good addresses and events in sports destinations!
You want to use the app? You just have to download it and make your own opinion:
More information about ski touring in Chamrousse: itineraries, equipment hire, mountain guide, ski touring events and blog articles.