Y Couloir and GM ridge M4 climb.

With unfinished business on the Aiguille d’Argentiere I headed up the Milieu alone to onsight the Y. Perfect corn awaited me and I had a truly amazing solo descent.

 

With the sun going away on Sunday it was time to get back on the tools. Heading up to a M4 climb on the GM ridge North Face with Tim Oliver around midday on Sunday we started the very thin climb with two parties ahead. Catching up with the slower pair at the crux we had a small wait to regain strength which was desperately needed given the tricky moves in difficult thin conditions. An awesome day out and some superb climbing.

 

 

 

 

Rond- West couloir, Aiguille du Midi

Early doors at the Midi with James and Tim off on another adventure. Skiing down the south face and traversing to the Rond we had a few people for company but it was quiet for a bluebird day up high. The top of the Rond was its usual icy side slip but once you traversed the blue ice sections at speed using the softer snow on the right bank to slow down, it was nice skiing all the way over the bergschrund. After waiting for Tim to pull himself out of it we carried on past the usual exit point and headed for the short boot pack up to the West couloir. We were alone. A short boot pack and a couple of rappels later and we were putting our skis on deep in this atmospheric couloir, there was no going back now.

After skiing some 50m we encountered the crux of the descent. A narrowing that was unskiable for the likes of us. A couple of meters wide with a foot deep three foot wide icy runnel right in the middle of it. I managed to get some tat on a nice flake and set up a rap down the first section of it but then the rope ran out, and we had no more anchors. Problem solving time. I started the ski using the last 5m of rope hanging below us. After coming to the end of the rope on the left side of the runnel It was axe and side slip for 10m before I had to figure out a way of crossing the ice. At this point James and Tim had already opted for down climbing but I was not in the best place for a safe transition. Using James and Tim as my anchor I traversed over the ice and managed to ski my way out of it. James and Tim downclimbed to me and then we could enjoy some more skiing. The snow in the lower section was a mix of old powder, neve and hard snow. Some enjoyable skiing but mostly just getting down! One by one we made our way down, extremely exposed to the gigantic serac hanging above us. No time to stop for lunch. We initially wanted to ski para face and walk to the tunnel but with the clouds coming in quick we decided mid station would be the safer bet. An eternity passed while we side stepped our way up the traverse to gain enough height to get back in one go. 3pm lift down and we hit the pub. It feels good to have skied the last route on the west face for me despite the bad snow conditions. I will have to return to this couloir with some better snow or maybe one day ski it direct! One can only dream…

 

Winter is here

Winter feels like it has finally come to Chamonix. After 3 great days skiing I can now have a morning off and relax and let my body heal.

It started Tuesday morning with heavy snow still falling and early bins at Grand Montets. There was about 30-40cm of fresh snow and it was nice and light at the start, Lapping the forrest we had great fun, then it started to get windy and there was more snow! I rode with about 20 different people as I was not in the mood for any waiting, this was a good move because I rode most of the lower section of GM where the best visibility could be found.

Roll on Wednesday… Meeting at LocalCHX¬†at 8am I got my hands on a pair of DPS Wailer 112. I know of a few people who use this ski and judging by the masses of tip rocker I knew they would be good in the powder. There were about 8 of us that were riding together in the first Midi bin and we were quick down the arete, Just behind the likes of Andreas Fransson and Seth Morrison. Cruising over to the Petit Envers we were digging trenches through waist deep snow, taking our turns to blast down the track and get a little further. The lower pitches to skiers left of Petit Rognon were superb. Open powder field with no tracks and bottomless powder, What more can you ask for. Meeting back up with the crowds breaking trail down on the flat we knew we had montenvers stairs to battle with but then we were on the train and back at the Midi ready for lap number 2.

Picture 1

Angus, Deep in it.

The weather had closed in around the arete and everyones goggles froze which made keeping your speed up to get to Gros Rognon very hard. At the top of the Gros Rognon we all lined up and rode it together, not ideal on a glacier but we were having too much fun, and could see a fari few tracks, so we could avoid the holes.

Picture 2

Dave Searle Charging the Gros Rognon.

Taking the same exit down the steep couloirs just after the Requin we were back at the train again, this time too destroyed to do another lap but with the biggest smiles on all of our faces!

Check out the Video Here.

Then Thursday came and I still wanted to go skiing. Heading up Brevent then straight across to Flegere I met up with Mike and Started skinning up the Col above Floria, With the intention of skiing it back down. Half way up I noticed this steep narrow couloir lookers left of the col about half way up. The snow was still soft and we had to break trail up but we had our skis on after 20mins of effort. Mike chose to ski down the open face putting in some nice big turns in the untracked snow.

photo

As I stared down the steep narrow couloir contemplating the best way in, I could see that the snow was heavily wind packed and would be hard work to ski. With the big opening below and Mike there waiting I gave it a go.

photo 2

Looking down the steep entrance.

Side slipping in the first steep 10 meters I set off the avalanche that I knew would come. It cleared most of the hard wind affected snow down the couloir and left a soft heavy cover for me to ski.

photo 3

Half way down the 100m couloir it got very narrow.

photo 4

Making a half dozen slow turns I was out the bottom and was satisfied with my skiing, This was a small training couloir for the Rectiligne Couloir at Grand Montets that I really want to ski this winter.

So, 3 fantastic days skiing with great people. More snow forecast for the weekend. Fingers crossed for 3 more of the same next week!