Mont Blanc du Tacul – 4,248m

Another first bin at the Aiguille du Midi except this time I am with Emily because last night I convinced her to come up Mont Blanc du Tacul with me.

After climbing with Ally yesterday you could see the amount of people that were still going up with skis, so as I had today off work and the weather looked good until the early afternoon I though I should give it a go as I have not been up there before and I still don’t want to put my skis away!

Arriving at the Midi at 7:30 there was no one there but then by 7:45 there was easily a few bins worth of climbers and skiers waiting to go up, well worth getting there 15 minutes earlier and eat breakfast at the front of the line!

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The Aiguille du Midi at 7:35!

At the top by 8:30 and a quick ski to the start of the climb just to the right of the Triangle. There is a over 600m of vertical from the Col to the summit, and then you have to climb back up the Midi arete when you have skied back down.

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This climb has to be done early and quite quickly because the snow warms up quickly in the sun and also there is a lot of exposure above you on the first half of the climb, very big seracs looming above.

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Have to make it a quick drink of water!

The going was quite good to start off with then Emily started to feel the altitude a little when we were over 3900m, this only slowed us down a little.

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Emily charging up with the Sallanches valley way in the background.

Just as we were over the 4000m mark the clouds started to move in, I could see the summit at this point and it looked very close. The wind had also picked up and it became very cold. Emily had said that if I wanted to go to bag the summit that she would have waited where we had got to which was around 4100/4150m judging by where the summit was. I didn’t fancy it, by this point you could only see it every now and then and it was not looking like it would improve.

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The summit just before the clouds came in, we went a little closer than this.

We then decided just to head back down before we couldn’t see a thing, we still had over 500m of decent with big seracs and crevasses to negotiate.

The snow on the way back down was pretty good considering it hadn’t warmed much and was still quite firm. There was no crust and you could even kick up some snow with more aggressive turns.

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There were lots of patches of untouched snow that was much nicer than the chopped up walking and skin track parts.

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Overall the guide book says its 30/40′ slopes on the descent, it was not very steep overall but with a lots of clear danger you still had to take care where you were going!

I think we made a good decision by turning around, as we noticed that many of the other skiers that had set out from the first few lifts had aso turned back just before the summit and speaking to others in the lift after, only people staying at the Cosmiques refuge and lycra clad ski-mo types made it to the top before the clouds came in. Arriving back at the Midi at 1:45 it was a white out, we just made it up the arete in the last bit of sunshine.

It looked a lot different at 9am!

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Another quality day up the Midi and its definitely  something I will have to go and finish off, Maybe next week!

Testing next years touring set-up

Me and Graham headed up above the Emosson Dam close to the Swiss boarder at 7am on Thursday with the plan of touring the  Pointe de L’Ifala after seeing that Charlie Boscoe, Chamonix Conditions, had skied it a few days before. Heading up early so that we could start our descent before 10/11 so that we had the best snow. We immediately  ran into problems when the security guard would not let us walk the road to the start of the route. We then had to try and find another route over a small shoulder hoping we could get back to the road further around, this did not work out to plan.

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I really wanted to get out on my new skis so that I could have a good idea of how they skied before next winter. I managed to get a pair of the 2009 K2 Coomba in 188 for a bargain and already having a pair of Plum Guide bindings I thought this would make a good set up. Plum had sent me the brand new 2013/14 Plum Guide as my pins had come out of my older ones, this was for free which was a nice surprise! They look very similar to me apart from half the toe piece being a nice matte black now! No blurb has been released about any other changes.

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From the Dam car park you cross the Dam and head up the obvious valley in front of you. As we didn’t make it to the start I cant really comment on the route it self but we managed to make a few turn on the face directly opposite the dam.

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I though the skies were really good and even though they are 14mm wider than my previous touring skis the K2 Wayback they skied very similar. Maybe its because I had a few tips from Graham!

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The snow was hard work on any traverse with it being quite soft but by the time we skied down it was some nice spring corn, and generally good fun!

We were back at the car by 9:30 after being pretty disappointed that we didn’t do what we set out to but it was fun to be skiing in June!

Thanks to Graham Pinkerton for the company and the ride.