Mont Mallet West couloir is tucked away on the north side of the Dent du Geant, along the ridge of the Periades. Normally you ski this line by climbing up the Breche Puiseux and climbing some mixed group to reach the shoulder of the Mallet. We decided to climb the line. This is not normally done because of the time spent exposed beneath the Noir seracs. We moved fast to minimise this exposure. First bin on weekend is now 7:30 and after Mikko exchanged multiple lift numbers we managed to get on the second bin and had our skins on by 8:30. I had skin malfunction within the hour and resorted to climbing with crampons.
The line (Photo- Lucapandolfi.com)
Mikko heading towards the couloir
Crossing the bergschrund
Mikko leading the way
Me struggling up the last few steps
The snow was very firm on the glacier and this did not slow us down. Upon arriving at the base of the couloir we started to get deeper with each step and soon we were wading up the couloir in nice powder snow. Ditching all our unnecessary gear at the bottom we made reasonable progress up the line sharing the trail breaking whenever I could. The sun had softened the harder sections of snow by the time we started skiing and it was good powder all the way down.
Making the first turns in good snow
High above the Vallee Blanche
Steep and exposed
Me trying to make some good turns
The wild side of the Geant
Smooth powder in the sun
Opening them up down low
The line with our tracks in the sun
Somehow we made it to the train for 3:30 and I rushed to work at 4:40, ten minutes late. Very tired, and surprised to find good snow so long after the last snowfall.
A good couple of days spent in the mountains. Meeting Mikko at the lift for first bin we were already a couple of people short of our original 4 team so it meant more boot packing for the both of us. Heading over a very ominous looking bergschrund we started the boot pack up the NE Spur. Soon we were joined by Jose who came along with us and shared the effort. After being plastered by howling spindrift and heavy sluff for the most of the climb we came to the diagonal ramp about 2/3rds of the way up. Here the couloir narrows and the only way up was to climb through the heavy spindrift/ sluff that was puling down the face. We called it a day here. Strapped on our skis and enjoyed a great ski back down. At the bottom we crossed the bergschrund on a bridge that was not there 2 hours earlier when we started. Lots of moving snow!
crossing the bergschrund
Mikko and Jose on the bootpack
me on the bootpack
Mikko enjoying the powder
ripping in the wind
Jose getting deep
Mikko finding more good snow with the spindrift increasing
The day after I was heading through the tunnel with Sleigh to search for some spring corn. I have admired the south face of the Dent du Geant for a couple of years now. Its a great looking hanging face that requires you to traverse to avoid the cliffs below. After a 2 hour mixed climb in the baking hot sun we reached the top of the line by 11:30. Starting off down the steepish couloir we found great spring powder that then turned into corn. Enjoying the descent we soon realised that we would have to start making the traverse to skiers right. Just as we started the traverse the thick cloud came in and we were in a white out. Moving from ridge to ridge in the dense cloud was unnerving but we eventually found the exit ramp down to the Marbrees. Lots more spring skiing came after until we arrived back at the car. Great morning out.
the line. Teton Gravity
Sleigh on the way up
Sleigh pulling himself up some steep mixed ground
one more difficult move and were there
Nearing the top of the line
me about to drop into the line
Sleigh in the sun before we dropped into the clouds
Sleigh enjoying more spring snow
Icy slope in the clouds
With what seems like weeks of high pressure settling in here in Chamonix there has been a lot of great stuff being skied. With the first few days spent finding great powder off the lifts we have started to go further afield in the search of powder.
Having seen the Tricot couloir last year when approaching the Trappier couloir I did some research and found that my dear friend Dave Searle had skied it before so I stole his photo for the topo. Cheers Dave.
Teaming up with my regular partner Tim, we were also joined by Tom Grant and Chippie. First lift up the Bellevue we headed up the tramway before skiing down to the Bionassay glacier and heading up towards the start of the couloir. We headed up the sometimes waist deep snow at a steady pace until have way up a lone skier popped out from a variant line and made us all question how he was ahead of us when there was no boot pack?! He had come up a different ridge and skied a different line that joins onto the NE couloir. After starting up the bootpack again we topped out just after 2pm. Enjoying great snow all the way down it felt very much like a free ride line and we all enjoyed the ski.
Tom starting the Skin
The boys on the way up
Tom near the top
Me on the summit
Continuing down the glacier to the village and then skinning back up to Col Voza we were enjoying beers before the sunset.
Tom at the top
Me enjoying some side snow
Chippie opening it up low-down
Tom getting deeper
Great snow for the most of it