I wanted to climb a gully called Motivation Encaissée in the North face of Tête des Portettes (2823m). Bad idea, it was a sunny day, no wind but way too warm, with a freezing level at 3600m. The conditions in the gully were bad; soft melting snow and a bit of fragile ice. I climbed up to the first crux, much steeper than expected (65-70°?) and I turned around in knee deep snow.
Smart people would have started from Isola 2000 to reach the base of the gully but I wanted to avoid the crowd of the ski resort, so I started from the Boreon 12 km away. Second bad choice of the day. The plan was to climb Motivation Encaissée and then the ridge up to Tête Margiole (2852m) and go down to the Lake Nègre and back to Salèse. Since I turned around in the Couloir I tried to reached the top of Tête des Portettes through the Northwest Couloir but the slopes were too avalanche prone. So I turned around for the second time of the day and went back on nasty snow and flatish trail for another boring 13 km.
Distance: 25 km, ascent: 1450m / descent: 1450m.
Motivation Encaissée:: III / D / 50-55° (two short sections steeper) / 400m (gully + Couloir). Open by Benjamin Decoster and Benoit Degroisilles.
Sunrise, Vallon de Salèse (© P. Gatta)
Description: park as close as possible to the summer parking toward Col de Salèse. Go to the Col (signpost 434, 435, 436) and continue toward Col de Mercière (268, 267, 265). Climb the Vallon de Tavels up to the Lake at the base of the North face of Portettes. The gully Motivation Encaissée is obvious on the right. From Isola 2000, go to the Col de Mercière and continue to the lake Tavels.
North face of Tête des Portettes, the gully Motivation Encaissée is on the right (© P. Gatta)
Way back to Col de Salèse, Cime de Rogué behind (© P. Gatta)