Glacier Rond

Getting a text wake up at 7am is never good, Unless its from Pete and it says “Do you fancy the Rond?”. I was not planning on skiing this morning but it was clear and conditions looked good so I thought it would be good to get up there and enjoy the mountain.

Getting to the Midi for 7:50 and Pete was queuing for tickets. After I saw he had a couple of number 12’s I whipped out a couple of spare number 9’s from last week! First Bin! Getting crammed in with a couple of guided groups and the French Army was good fun and we were first down the arete. Breaking the trail around to the Rond we started down the upper slopes only to find 6-8inches of fresh snow, that sluffed, on a super firm/icy base. After 20m of dodgy side slipping I decided that with no edges on my skis I would be better down climbing, so after a couple of hair raising moments on the transition I had my crampons on and began the down climb. Pete carried on down just below me with his nice sharp edges then I put my skis back on about 50m above the exit couloir.

Despite being first to the Rond we had been overtaken by 3 people by the time we reached the exit couloir. They set off down the exit in what looked like deep cold snow, and by the time we combat skied our way through the rocks we confirmed that it was!

With only 3 tracks down the exit we had lots of fresh and then upon the exit we could see that they had put the traverse to the Para face in for us. This was the first time for me down the west side of the midi this year and after doing it with Tom Grant last year I remembered how good this face was. Huge open fields of nice boot deep powder and no-one else around! Finishing back at the Midi at 12:30 it had taken 3 hours for the descent, Straight home and on a bus to Geneva, now very tired at work! Thanks for a fun morning Pete and I need to go and sharpen my edges, Local CHX i’m looking your way!

Click Here to read what pete had to say about our day up the mountain, also he has a pretty cool short film about the Rond.

This one was for Dave. An amazing guy who will be greatly missed by many. Thoughts go out to his Family and all those that were lucky enough to ski, drink or party with him.

Please read Lornes write up.

http://www.lornecameron.com/2014/rip-david-tapsfield/

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Aiguille De L’Ecrenaz, North East Couloir, 2385m

After Mondays big day touring off the Midi we wanted more. I remember reading Lornes write up of the North East Couloir last year and it has been in the back of my mind ever since. Knowing that the north facing slopes would still be in good condition me James and Tim headed up Brevent-Flegere for first bins heading for the Rouge.

Traversing around the floria you get your skins on quickly. We were the only people taking this route and after passing over 50 people at the bottom of the floria all putting skins on we knew we had made the right choice. An hours skinning put us at the bottom of the couloir. The sun was baking hot and hitting our backs as we plodded up the 500m couloir. The snow on this south facing couloir was horrible. Changing from knee deep slush to bullet hard ice where we were glad we brought crampons. The boot pack felt like it went on for ever, The bad snow mixed with the hot sun really drained us and we were happy when we reached the top.

Looking down the North facing couloir we saw some good snow. There is a 40m side slip to get to the rappel then a 30m rap. Putting skis on we had over 500m of nice steep skiing ahead of us. The first few turns came and went and it felt fluid all the way down. The snow varied from nice powder on the sides of the couloir to soft chalky powder in the centre. Out of the couloir and it was more powder skiing down to Buet. Still not convinced by the La Sportiva Spectres, there is now 5mm walk mode play, which does not fill me with confidence skiing, steeps and back country.

Thanks to James and Tim for a great day out.

Breche Puiseux 3790m

I finally have my touring boots back! Having problems with my Spectres has put a hold on my touring over the past 3 weeks but the rep says they are fixed so that will do. The timing couldn’t have been better, fresh snow a few days prior and perfect weather. I was keen to ski the Capucin Couloir with James, Luke and Tim but they had their eyes initially set on Breche Puisex. They both follow the same start so I had an hour of skinning to change their mind. At the split in the route I came around to the mellower ski, as I knew it had been skied and would be a safer bet for nice snow. After the 2-hour skin and 40 minute boot pack we were at the top. Bumping into Charlie Boscoe who had also decided against the Capucin Couloir. This was a good choice then! There is a 30m rap down the back of the col then a small down climb with an insitu rope. The skiing was fantastic. Perfect cold powder and it was deep. After we got Tims ski back (narrowly avoiding a crevasse) we flew down the glacier and we were on the Leschaux before too long. There’s a bit of side stepping to get back on to the Mer de Glace and then the usual walk up to the James Bond. Back in town for happy hour we were all tired and had big smiles on our faces. What a day, Thanks to James, Luke and Tim.

Monday…

Monday was a mixed bag of skiing. Waking up early for first bin at the Midi at 8am then having to wait until 10am to get on a bin, Already behind schedule… After getting to the top and reversing the upper section of the Cosmiques Arete to go and ski the South Couloir we found ourselves waiting again. A guide was taking two clients up the couloir and they were unbelievably slow. The guide wanted us to wait, but after 20 minutes of hanging around watching the sun slowly melt the snow and start to sluff off we told the guide to move his clients to the side and we skied it one by one. He gave each one of us a mouthful as we skied past! Nice skiing but the snow was not 100%.

Next delay! After skiing the south couloir we then arrived at the right hand rappel of the Cosmiques west Couloir. Waiting another 20/30 minutes here as some guys tried to pull their rope down and got it stuck we were becoming very impatient and we were watching some big movements across the Gouter face and the snow was starting to change and become heavy. Watching Pete and Grant finally rap in, James and I decided we would just go and do a Gros Rognon as we couldn’t be bothered with the exit after al this time we had taken. Such a good choice!

Thigh deep, cold powder awaited us all the way down Gros Rognon and with the James Bond track in perfect condition. We were back to town pretty soon. Grabbing some beers and Luke we were on last bin at 4pm going back up the Midi. Chilling with a beer on the arete soaking up the views we were the only 3 people skiing Gros Rognon at 5pm! The snow was still perfect and after stopping for another beer at les Mottes hut we skied the James Bond at dusk to return to Elevation for 6:30pm. All in all a great day despite the waiting around! Thanks to James, Luke, Pete and Grant for another great day up the Midi!

Click HERE to watch a video from Monday!

Plan laps and GM hikes

Waking up to blue skies and fresh snow has become a rarity this winter. So when I woke up at 9am on tusday morning after getting home at 4:30am I was quick to get ready. Showering and downing a pint of berrocca I was out the door for 9:30 heading to meet Rich at the Midi.  I had done skiers left from the mid station a week before and was keen to give it another go in blue skies.  We had nice deep cold snow all the way down the the valley and only a couple of tracks could be seen. Heading up for another and we were treated to another 1200m of powder!

With 2 plan laps in we fancied heading to Grand Montets to see if the little bochard hike was still good. It paid off. Skiing it 3 times after 2p,m with fresh deep snow all the way. Although it is a short ride its fun and steep and always less tracked than the rest of GM! What a good day, we have been waiting a while!

Click HERE to see a video from Tuesday!

E.N.S.A

Over 8 inches of lovely cold snow fell in Chamonix yesterday. This put a hold to my Cosmiques first bin idea as I knew I couldn’t make it home for work at 1pm if the midi was late opening. Change of plans. Ally Swinton and I were at Brevent for 9am. Waiting until 10:15 when they finally opened top ticket, we were in the first group heading towards E.N.S.A. Watching 3 balls-out riders huck the 3m cliff into the narrow couloir while we set up our rope for the rap! The snow was perfect. Nice and cold, deep powder. Charging down the couloir we found nice snow all the way back to town where we headed home. As quickly as we were in, it was over. Both with big smiles and plenty of snow on our faces! Cheers Ally for the photos and for being nice and quick!

Picked up some alpine boots yesterday from Footworks. I have never worn a pair and they are nowhere near as comfy as my La Sportiva touring boots! What a baptism of fire they had! Should be able to charge harder than in my touring boots, and they wont fall apart as quick now!

Pas du Chevre Central Couloir & E.N.S.A

Another early start on a monday morning saw me and Ally Hurst heading towards Grant Montets with the hope of sunshine and deep powder. By the time we had our skis on in was 10:30 and the wind was blowing up high. This didn’t stop us from heading straight down towards the Pas du Chevre (Topo Here)  with the main aim of skiing the central couloir. Neither of us had done it before but working from a topo from Dave Searle we roughly knew where we were heading. Keeping skiers left down the normal route we found hundreds of meters of fresh deep snow with only a handful of tracks down it. Only pausing for a couple of photos we were down in no time. Fast, steep and deep is the only way to describe that run! Getting down into the play ground at the bottom we were jumping and slashing our way down to the dodgy icy rock step that we encountered last week. Here we met up with James and Josh who had just skied the Rectiligne and said it was pretty good too. We skied back to town on the James Bond track where both Ally and Josh decided to go home to get ready for work. Me and James were no where near ready to call it a day at 12:30! We got straight on a bus and as we had ropes in our bag and harnesses on E.N.S.A was the next point of call. Quick to the top after a nice double drop to the entrance we had finished the 30m rap in a matter of minutes and were looking down a tracked but surprisingly nice couloir. Getting back to the Brevent lift in 30 minutes after 1000m of nice snow we headed back up to have a look at hotel face. This had been in the sun all day and was not very enjoyable with a crust and some very heavy snow. We then decided to call it! With over 5000m of vertical in it was a good day and we both enjoyed a well deserved burger and a few pints! Thanks to Ally, James and Josh for the fun day out and LocalCHX for the ski service, they are running like a dream! Hit a few rocks later on in the day so you will be seeing me again shortly!