West Couloir. Aiguille du Midi.

On Monday I headed up with Ross to ski the West Couloir on the Midi.  Despite the good forecast we had both decided we wanted to ski down hill to maximize the amount of descent rather than ski touring where you might only get one descent in the whole day. We found some good chalky snow in the couloir and a some fast rippable snow on the apron and down the para face.  I recently got given a GoPro head cam(!) by my sister and brother in law and I was keen to try it out. It was all going well until the para face… I was following Ross down at some pretty high speeds when I realized I was only half concentrating on my own skiing. I crossed my tips and took a nasty twisting fall. I managed to ski down to the valley and headed up for another run, this time just down the Gros Rognon.  The day after my knee swelled up and now three days later I finally feel like its starting to get better and hopefully I’ll be out on the ski’s next week. Here’s some shots and my first ever go at a GoPro edit! Enjoy….I hope.

One Excellent Day…

Last night I could barely stand, barely keep my eyes open on the drive to the supermarket to by food for my 3000 calorie meal. I was destroyed.  Yesterday was the first “bell to bell” skiing day I’ve had for a while and we skied over 8000 vertical meters of pow.  We started at the Grand Montets and opened the Couloir Rectiligne in perfect knee deep snow just in front of some Chamonards that kicked a wind slab onto me! Grrrrrr. I’ve not skied it before but it was the perfect first run down with face shots, Hi5s and smiles. After this we headed to the Midi for a fast, super fun Grande Envers with Petter and Karl. Me and Ross still wanted more from the day and after a brief stop for some food we headed up for the Glacier Rond. My legs were feeling the burn and I could barely ski but I had to try and keep up with Ross as best I could.  We made it back to town with very little hiking and without being devoured by the treacherous hoard of blood thirsty hounds that normally linger in the forest at the base. Big thanks to Ross, Bjarne Salen, Jon, Karl and Petter Wallberg for super fun day!

Bjarnes Website

Midi West Face Mash Up

I often forget how lucky I am to have the Aiguille du midi 10 mins walk from my house, but days like yesterday really remind me of what a big midi day can offer. I headed out with Ross Hewitt and Drew Tabke (of Freeride World Tour Champion fame) for a few laps off the top.  Things are shaping up nicely for a good spring with the snow starting to bond to the steeper slopes well.  We started of with a Glacier Rond to Salopar which is fun and interesting variation to the exit couloir which spits you out almost at the bottom of the West Couloir.  Its bit of a faff at the moment with abseils and some tricky rock steps, to quote mr Tabke “I’ve never had to use a hand jam whilst skiing before”.  Ultimately it was worth it for the steep, untouched pow turns and just for a bit of adventure too.  Unfortunately Ross’s back gave out half way down that first run and me and drew thought we would have to jerry rig a ski zimmerframe out of our poles for the poor chap. He still made it down and displayed some good freeride skills hucking out the bottom but the pain was written all over his face throughout the second half of the run.  We must have looked quite the picture in the lift station when I was trying to help him stretch his back out.

After this Ross called time but me and Drew were still going strong and wanted more so headed up to do the Cosmiques Couloir which was also in good nick and very rippable. We traversed back to the mid station again and decided it was probably still worth skiing some more so headed up again to check out the Rond.  It was amazing how much it had been scrapped of after 60+ people had been down it and it was alot more sketchy that second time but got better the lower down we got.  In the exit couloir we were both getting pretty bad leg pump (glad it wasn’t just me) and it felt pretty hard going.  On the traverse back we dropped into the Para Face which, as always, provided some incredible skiing to get back to the tunnel.  We managed to keep our skis on all the way to the road and then a friend gave us a lift back to town (cheers Tim).  All in all a good day with many 1000’s of meters of descent with some really good snow, adventure and good company. Cheers boys.

Drew at the top of the Rond

Drew at the top of the Rond

sidestepping....

sidestepping….

sidestepping after handjam.

sidestepping after handjam.

coming off the first rap

coming off the first rap

we skied this bit of snow by mistake and had to hike out.

we skied this bit of snow by mistake and had to hike out.

not doing bad for an old codger

not doing bad for an old codger

the actuall traverse is above and right of ross

the actuall traverse is above and right of ross

abseiling finished

abseiling finished

me on the salopar

me on the salopar

looking good

looking good

coming to the final cliff band

coming to the final cliff band

drew lead the way on the freeride bit

drew lead the way on the freeride bit

ross about to seal the deal with a straightline to compression.

ross about to seal the deal with a straightline to compression.

Exiting the salopar

Exiting the salopar

admiring our work

admiring our work

on the traverse

on the traverse

Cosmiques Couloir

Cosmiques Couloir

Lower down in the cosmiques

Lower down in the cosmiques

Cosmiques exit.

Cosmiques exit.

Making Rond on the third lap

Making Rond on the third lap

Glorious midi.

Glorious midi.

on the para face

on the para face

My Biggest Day this Winter.

The Parreselle/Cunningham Couloir from the Bridge

Its been a slow few weeks mountains wise.  Lots of snow has been falling and lots of leaving party’s to go to.  Productivity has been low and therefor stuff to write about has been few and far between.  Two days ago the clouds parted and the promise of good conditions saw me getting ready for a big day off the Midi.  With my knee feeling good I was very psyched to get up and have a productive day.  I meet my Friend Ross Hewitt and Si Christy.   Continue reading