I’ve written a few posts on the classic backcountry descents that start from Les Deux Alpes heading towards St. Christoph or La Grave. Up to now though, I have neglected to mention those routes closer to home, which both start and finish within the Deux Alpes lift system.
The Clot de Chalance is one of those routes, and with a thousand metres of vertical drop it is a significant route with many different variations. A classic of the resort, the run follows a wide steep valley littered with rock bands and cliffs. Good route finding is important here. This is a popular spot for speed riders (those who mix skiing and paragliding), and hosted a run of the 2015 French Speed Riding Championships. Some tracks in the area might not be safe to follow unless you have a paraglider on your back.
The route begins close to the top of the Signal chairlift, a short distance down the Glacier 1 piste. A hundred metres or so of walking rightwards past a small white hut takes you to the entrance to the bowl. From here there are several options. Staying in the centre, winding through the rock bands is the most popular route, while a high traverse left leads to an interesting and more challenging run through couloirs. The best choice often depends on snow conditions, with the central route facing west and the left hand variant having a more northerly aspect. Lower down, you can head out right to find south-west facing slopes as well.
Although Chalance is fairly popular, and has Gasex pipes for avalanche control, this is still a dangerous place with sections prone to avalanche. Even a small avalanche here can be have serious consequences due to the numerous rock bands mentioned earlier.
Most variations meet in a flat area above a final steeper slope leading to the Fée 1 blue piste. Chalance can have good conditions at any point in the season, but do check that either the La Fée or Thuit chairlifts are open or you will face a long walk.