Another early start on a monday morning saw me and Ally Hurst heading towards Grant Montets with the hope of sunshine and deep powder. By the time we had our skis on in was 10:30 and the wind was blowing up high. This didn’t stop us from heading straight down towards the Pas du Chevre (Topo Here) with the main aim of skiing the central couloir. Neither of us had done it before but working from a topo from Dave Searle we roughly knew where we were heading. Keeping skiers left down the normal route we found hundreds of meters of fresh deep snow with only a handful of tracks down it. Only pausing for a couple of photos we were down in no time. Fast, steep and deep is the only way to describe that run! Getting down into the play ground at the bottom we were jumping and slashing our way down to the dodgy icy rock step that we encountered last week. Here we met up with James and Josh who had just skied the Rectiligne and said it was pretty good too. We skied back to town on the James Bond track where both Ally and Josh decided to go home to get ready for work. Me and James were no where near ready to call it a day at 12:30! We got straight on a bus and as we had ropes in our bag and harnesses on E.N.S.A was the next point of call. Quick to the top after a nice double drop to the entrance we had finished the 30m rap in a matter of minutes and were looking down a tracked but surprisingly nice couloir. Getting back to the Brevent lift in 30 minutes after 1000m of nice snow we headed back up to have a look at hotel face. This had been in the sun all day and was not very enjoyable with a crust and some very heavy snow. We then decided to call it! With over 5000m of vertical in it was a good day and we both enjoyed a well deserved burger and a few pints! Thanks to Ally, James and Josh for the fun day out and LocalCHX for the ski service, they are running like a dream! Hit a few rocks later on in the day so you will be seeing me again shortly!
Waking up to a beautiful sunrise in Chamonix is one of the many reasons people find it hard to leave here! Another reason is the fact that you have some of the best skiing available in the world right on your door step. Making the most of my last day off work I was heading to Allys house bright and early this morning to see what we were going to do. I had one thing in my mind, Cunningham Couloir on the Aiguille du Midi west face. This has been on my list for a while and its only now that I feel confident enough in my skiing ability to be able to get down it in one piece. Ally was less keen on this route. After speaking to his house mate, Dave Searle who skied the Glacier Rond and Rectiligne yesterday ( read about it here), he knew that it would be a shit storm trying to negotiate the Bossons Glacier if the clouds came in like the forecast said it would!
After much debate and a cup of tea I agreed to go and Ski the Couloir Rectiligne which is accessed from the top station of Les Grand Montets. I knew it would be tracked out but having not done it before I was still super keen. Heading up to Argentiere on a bus about 9:15 we were straight in the queue for top ticket which was only about 15/20 minutes, got to love quiet season!
I was first with my skis on and while Ally was sorting out his kit I headed down to try and find the entrance as we only had a rough idea of where we were going. Upon finding it I saw that it was a narrow side slip for about 20 meters before you enter into the couloir. I started the slip without Ally so it would be free when he got there. After we got home he said he didn’t know where I was when he was looking for the entrance, only to hear the sound of skis on firm snow and rocks then followed the scratching to find me!
We took turns leading, half each, so we could get a few photos. The snow was still pretty soft but well tracked out. There was the occasional area of untracked powder on the sides that was good fun. After completing the couloir we were both pleased to have skied it reasonably well and saw it as training for when conditions are not perfect. Its nice to know where it is now for future powder days, maybe one day we will get it like Dave did yesterday.
After exiting the couloir you are still in a reasonably dangerous place. The Dru is towering above you and there are hanging seracs pointing down on you so we had to move fast. The snow on the lower part of the Pas du Chevre was still soft and untracked but it did feel a bit wet. We had another few hundred meters of descent before joining the track to Montenvers. On this track is a short abseil, there is some in-situ rope but it is not quite long enough to get you over the ice underneath, as one Swede found out climbing back up and asking us to use our rope! A quick 15m rap and your past this difficulty and heading down the rocky chutes towards the glacier. Another day and another 420 steps back up to the train! What a week it has been, 4 days and 4 amazing couloirs. More snow forecast for the weekend so lets see what next week brings!
Thanks to Big Man Ally Hurst for the company and photos, Maybe I can build up his Psych for Cunningham next week!