With the relentless baking sun beating down on the glaciers it has become the norm this summer to avoid snow routes. I had not been on the Pyramide before and hearing great things about its east ridge I headed up with Grant for his first Alpine adventure.
Knowing the crux of the day would be finding a good point to get off the glacier and onto the rock we headed up first bin to maximise our time. The glacier has opened up some big holes around the base of the climb and the start looks alot different from the topo i was working from taken just two years ago by Jon Griffith.
We made it onto the rock after a couple of dead ends in the endless crevasses and started up the rock, moving together about 08:30.
The rock is superb and the route finding pretty straight forward, following the odd stuck piece of gear and countless belays. The sun was hot and we were moving fast, just next two another British team of two.
Big holes near the point lachenal
the crevasse minefield
more big holes
shedding weight from my nostrils
grant on some slabby section, Pyramide
Grant moved quick considering he forgot his rock shoes on his first rock climb off the midi, slabs in Scarpa Nepals are not great at the best of times. After 4 hours of amazing cracks, flakes and slab we hit the top. Rapping straight off the summit down the south face we had one rope jam, that came free after some loud cursing, then made quick work getting back to the Panoramic on the Italian side by 4pm. The traverse was made scary by some very wide, very thin melting snow bridges. Not for the faint of heart. Greeted by some Germans in the small bubbles who offered us some much needed water. A great day up high, and nice to escape the crowds of the high street.
Made it to the panoramic
With no real ski objectives in mind James and I headed to the Tacul triangle so he could try his hand at a bit of ice climbing on the Chere Couloir. This is where I first learned the skill just one year ago with Ally (Read Here). The approach to the route took no time with our skis on, compared to over 2 hours last year in deep snow!. Once at the bottom of the route we roped up and crossed the Schrund. It consists of 4 pitches of ice and a small section of mixed, with the difficulty increasing as you climb higher. Last year I led the final pitch but this year it was good for my confidence and gear placement skills as I led all the pitches. James had no problems despite this being his first time with two axes on anything steeper than a snow slope. It was in perfect condition with its usual kicked in steps full of neve. back down safely and the clouds had come in. Leaving the clouds by the Gros Rognon we had a slushy afternoon descent to Montenvers. Perfect day out.
The Chere Couloir. In good condition
Sleigh on the 85′ Ice
Me leading the last pitch.
After a couple of days drinking and getting sunburnt I needed to do something. Not feeling skiing I headed up the midi with a Cosmiques speed solo in mind. Running down the arete and around to the start of the route the altitude was hitting me after a few days off! Making good progress to the first rap I was caught up by 3 Germans who had not roped up yet and they used my rope for the two raps. After this I offered them to go ahead and break the trail through the 8″ of fresh wind blown snow, but they didn’t know the way so off I went again! I have done this route 5 or 6 times before but never alone and never with fresh snow on it. The rock section was not too bad but the traverse to the exit chimney and the chimney itself was very daunting and I was treading very carefully as a slip here would have meant the end and They would have found this picture on my iPhone somewhere down the Cunningham couloir…
Nearly home! Love going solo
At the top of the chimney there was a lot of fresh snow, It was hard to get a good footing and at this point I just wanted to be on the platform. Digging deep I buried my axe in and pushed off a tiny front point and reached the safety of the ridge and the ladder was in sight. Getting over the ladder the 2 minutes to next bin alert rang out as I started sprinting to the lift. Puffing and panting in the cable car I got some funny looks and a few “are you OK?’s”. Maybe I will wait for the snow to go before I try that again! 1:08 was my time from Ice tunnel to the viewing platform. Maybe a sub 1 hour next?
Not added a new post for a few weeks. Mainly I have been busy with work but when the snow has been good I have been taking full advantage of it.
A couple of nice day trips over to Courmayeur before Christmas to ski some nice couple of day old powder. The resort has a good amount of snow now and it is all open.
A short hike from the Cresta D’arp cable car and you can access some nice north facing couloirs.
They had been skied but were still really good.
There are a few more couloirs below the cable car below that that were also good.
New Years eve saw my first trip skiing up the Aiguille du Midi since October!
With fresh snow falling a couple of days before we knew it would be good. Reports coming in from friends said that it was possible to ski out to Montenvers but there were some big holes so we had to watch out.
Heading down the Arete with Seb and Tyler, Both had never worn crampons and there was no rope, took a while but we made it down safe.
We then headed towards the Petit Envers as it looked like we could get some nice snow in the shade of the Petit Rognon.
Some great pitches of skiing before we got to the shaded part and we all had smiles on our faces!
We were then rewarded with some amazing cold powder in the shade skiers left of the Rognon. there was a few tracks but loads of fresh still to be had.
The going was fine after that until we had to cross over below the seracs du Geant.
There were some big holes and narrow snow bridges. It was fine for skiers but the three boarders in our group had to rope up and ride one footed for a short distance, going very close to danger!!
It was fine to ski to Montenvers and get pretty close to the ice caves. A great first ski of the Midi for 2014.
After a hard days raining on Monday and seeing that the rain snow limit was down to 2700m Me and Tom Grant headed up the midi with the hopes of some good summer powder! Not getting up there too early we were half way down the arête just after 8am with our skis on our feet. The arête was great fun with a few inches of fresh powder and as it was still pretty cold up high it was staying in good shape.
After having a look about we decided that the North Face of the Tacul was out because there would be a high risk of wind slab, we saw a few groups attempt to break trail up it turning back just after the crevasse after a small slide almost took them back into it. We decided to have some fun on the small ridgeline below the Cosmiques refuge near the Perroux hut. Lapping this a few times we got some good powder turns in and some great photos! It was worth it for the novelty of end of July Powder!
Fingers crossed for some snow up high in August to be one month away from skiing a solid 12 months here in Chamonix.