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.
Early morning inversion
The blue ice on the Rond
Sleigh finding some powder
and a little more
Traversing to the boot pack
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…
Approaching the crux
Looks ready to go!
Down climbing the ice
Here we go. Steep
Tim getting stuck in to the couloir
Sleigh, jump turn master
exposure. dont hang about here
Side stepping in the heat of the day
West couloir 5.3 E3 ?
Into the clouds
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.
Me getting into the exit couloir
Pete on the firm Glacier
Breaking trail to the start of the Rond
Pete opening it up in the exit
down on the bossons glacier
Para face fun
me half way down the exit in deep snow