Dwight Peck's personal website

Mont Sâla

If there's any snow left at all, we'll find it.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Mont Sâla incrementally, April 2010

Every year we fight the same existential battle -- as the snow disappears out of the forests, the mountain roads don't get the message. It's existential because we're out here to find the snow and most of it doesn't exist anymore, but we're not going to give up until we begin to look really foolish.

There's snow on the Route de Montagne from here on up towards La Bassine -- we've already pulled the plastic under-panels off the front of the car -- so we'll start out from here, about 1250m asl.

Wrong again -- after the mushy patch, it's pretty snowfree for the next few kilometres. We're plodding towards Mont Sâla, on the horizon, 17 April and already everything's looking like mid-May up here.

Mont Sâla. March was, globally, the hottest March in recorded history, so . . . disappointments, but no surprises.

Past the roadway and up into the forest: at some point, it will become 51% better with snowshoes on than not, and then we'll put them on.

Snowshoes on, this is the "notch path" up to the Combe des Begnines with the sun shining benevolently.

The path winds pleasantly up through the cliffs, all the better with the sun out.

The "notch" of the notch path, about 1400m

Out onto the Combe des Begnines (1409m), the alpage of the commune of Begnins.

Two skiers have passed by a few hours earlier -- otherwise, no tracks from anytime in the past few weeks. Everybody's down getting ready for the football/soccer season.

Sinkholes in the Combe des Begnines, which is limestone and riddled with natural storm drains.

The weather is superb, the scenery excels, but nonetheless it might be a good idea to rest here for a while, and have another go at Mont Sâla tomorrow.

Mont Sâla's over in that direction (southwest), and the farm of Le Couchant is just over that rise. We'll work on our tan for a little while, until the skies become opaque with Icelandic volcano lava/ash clouds -- the Swiss airports, like the rest of Europe, have closed down completely, and Kristin's due to arrive in a few days.

A sinkhole filling up with runoff, very beautiful

Looking northeast in the Combe des Begnines, at the farm of Les Begnines (1464m). Notice those Icelandic volcano lava/ash clouds obscuring the heavens.

Southwest towards Le Couchant, with lava clouds.

Back down the notch path. The old snow looks really dirty because of all the volcanic ash.

Popping out of the forest near La Bassine (1263m) and a shirtsleeves plod along the way

Dieter's still there, good.

Mont Sâla for real this time

Back the next day, we're Oath Keepers and we vowed to come back and finish the job.

Up through the cliffs again, same trail, but a few more tracks on it since yesterday

It will be good to see Mont Sâla again, unless the Icelandic volcano ash has covered it up.

We're hurrying, because according to the news reports the volcano crisis is worsening rapidly, and the authorities may lock down the forest paths anytime now. Nearly all the airports in Europe have closed down, though nobody has seen any actual Icelandic ash yet.

The notch path, with volcanic ash and Spanish moss cluttering up the snow

We're sneaking up the back way to Mont Sâla, unsignposted but shorter and faster than the normal route.

The signposted path, passing Le Couchant farm, is on the far side of that ridge.

A wonderful anthill -- the scouts are out and scurrying all over it, but no great masses of workers yet.

Up onto Mont Sâla now, with a look back at the Le Couchant farm that we've sidestepped.

Mont Sâla

A little ankle-snapper on the way up onto the top

Mont Sâla (1512m) is just another bump on the Jura ridgeline, but it's very beautiful and quite accessible. Most of these old tracks seem to have come up from the French side.

Ceremonial cross

A good view of Geneva, Switzerland, from here, though somewhat obscured by volcanic ash, or lava.

The front side of Mont Sâla -- our ancient VW is waiting for us down there somewhere.

Looking southwest along the ridge towards Mont Pelé

La Dôle in the distance

Back down again. Of course.

With idle time on our hands this afternoon, we're taking the normal route out into the Combe des Begnines per se.


Lava clouds massing over Le Couchant farm

Le Couchant (1445m)

A lovely farm, owned by the commune of Chenit in the Vallée de Joux, near the French border on the far side of the Jura ridgeline

Ash clouds massing behind us

Le Couchant and the top of Mont Sâla behind

Down the notch path

A long path out

Dieter the VW is waiting patiently

But wounded. He broke off those plastic panels down in the front by wrestling around unadvisedly in the snow yesterday. But Dieter's getting old. Even his 8-track tape deck doesn't work anymore.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 20 April 2010, revised 26 October 2014.

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