Since my visit to the Emparis plateau during my trek from Termignon to La Grave, I told myself that this place must be absolutely superb in winter. From now on it is no longer a guess, but a certainty! The view of the Meije is breathtaking. In addition, it is ideal terrain for snowshoeing.
Departure from Chazelet
This day hike is long enough for snowshoes. So leave early and take a headlamp in your bag, just in case. In fact, I made it (among other things) over the course of a week in winter refuge of the peak of the mas de la grave (a must, the insulation is sensational). Hence the somewhat disparate nature of the weather in the photos!
From Chazelet, go down towards the ski slopes then turn towards Vorze. Cross a bridge and the three villages of Rivet. When I hiked it, the winter trail was very well marked there.
The Buffe valley
We then slowly enter the (very beautiful) Buffe valley. Pass below the Mas de la Grave peak refuge and continue to the Buffe barracks. From there, start to climb more intensely towards the ridge. At the summit, pass into the Rif Tort valley which you follow for a few kilometers. It's gently hilly and you don't see any trace of civilization around, you might think you're in Spitsbergen!
We then arrive on the Emparis plateau itself. Cross the large open space to an intersection and go up towards the Col du Souchet. When I covered this portion, the snow regularly produced large, rather worrying cracking sounds as we progressed. Almost like a clap of thunder! It was probably several layers of snow which settled during our passage. No danger of avalanche on such flat terrain, but it is easy to understand that this type of snow can trigger easily!
The Emparis plateau on snowshoes
At the Col du Souchet, the view of the Meije and the Girose glacier is fantastic. We descend this landscape of gentle hills with our heads lost in this dream landscape!
Coming down from the Emparis plateau on snowshoes, it is better to stay on the right bank of the Galan Rif because the GR54 passes through somewhat steep slopes on the other side. You can then cross the stream a little further down. We then reach the top of the Chazelet ski lifts. During this period of pandemic, the slopes were marked but the ski lifts were not working. So we went straight down to the ski slopes, but a normally valid option would be to take the chairlift downhill. We thus complete the hike by returning to Chazelet.