Do you know “Le Devoluy”, the beautiful valley in the Hautes-Alpes region of the southern Alps? No? Then it’s high time you did, because where else can you be on an ascent yet ski below the surface of the Earth? What makes this possible is the fact that the Devoluy-Massif is a region with unusual geological features, so-called “Chourums” or caves. There are around 600 of them in the area, some of which can be explored on skis. Some Chourums form incredible arches - the most well-known of these is the “Olympic Chourum”. Traversing through this has to be an absolute highlight for any ski tourer. The deepest cave is the “Chourum des Aiguilles” - at 980 meters (3,215 feet), it’s the deepest cave in Europe. The longest cave in the region measures 6.5 k (4 miles).
Above ground there is plenty of great ski touring: The second highest summit -- the 2,758 m (9,050 feet) Grand Ferrand is definitely worth the climb.
The tours in the area, particularly in the Chourums, are challenging, and may include sections with significant risk. They are not for beginners; they are recommended only for experienced ski mountaineers. Because it’s not always possible to see the entry to the caves from the outside, a high degree of care is necessary when skiing. Having the right equipment with you is essential.
The entire Devoluy Massif is characterized by its pleasant climate; the southern Alps are generally sunnier than the northern Alps. The best time to visit is in the second half of winter, between February and April/May. The beginning of winter is usually dry, and snow generally does not fall until January.