A Fine Link

Ski Mountaineering for me is about finding great link ups involving climbing, and skiing and traversing peaks. Last Sunday, after a cruzy day exploring Les Contamines with Irene, me and Josh Fawcett headed out to make some SKIMO (ski Mountaineering) and scored a pretty good day almost by mistake.  With a vague plan to hit the Traverse of the Noire and “possibly something else” and a even vaguer forecast suggesting some wind and precipitation at some point during the day we went into the day with an open mind.

We headed out from the Aiguille du Midi down the classic Vallee Blanche and over to the Italian side.  Hiking up the glacier to the start of the climb through the cold gusty wind with flakes of snow whipping past our noses we were slightly hesitant and came close to turning back a few times.. The weather was clear on the french side and we hoped the small localised weather spilling over from Italy wouldn’t follow us into the Traverse of the Noire. Thankfully by the time we reached the boot pack leading up to Pointe Yeild things were dying down so we carried on over the ridge to the top of the face.  I’d been here a few years ago with Tom, Ross and Michelle.. We got spooked out by wind slab and decided to head back. This time however there were about twenty tracks, ten going skiers left and ten going skiers right down the convex face. We opted for right hand option and skied down a little way to the steep choke which is normally pretty icey.

We side stepped down through this which was both tiring and intimidating due to the nature of the crumbling snow, but managed to score some pow turns on the lower face before busting hard skiers right through the glacier and over to the bottom of the Breche Puiseux. From here we decided we had enough time and psyche to go and ski the NW shoulder of them Aiguille Tacul aswell. The climb up the final gully was roasting hot but it was worth suffering the heat and softening snow as we found a few good turns on the way down this line. The best snow however was on the moraine bench hard skiers right going down to the Leschaux Glacier at the end.

A great little link up of about 1200m vertical ascent with some really good snow on the descents and with a variety of different terrain and views to keep us amused. All in all a good day out on the hill!

Click on the Pictures bellow to see them in gallery format.

 

S Couloir, Aiguille De L’Eboulement. D²

Eboulement south couloir

Eboulement south couloir

I’ve wanted to ski this little gem for a while but I’ve struggled to find it in good conditions and having  a motivated partner to go so deep into the massif.  Dave to the power of 2, the second being Davide De Masi got together and headed out on Saturday 26th.   Its a heck of a long way from the midi and almost warrants a night in a refuge but we were both struggling to get our heads around spending a night in the mountains to ski when we both have  warm and comfortable apartments to sleep in in the valley.  Naturally we decided to go from first bin in true fast and light Cham style.  1500m+ vertical in a day sure didn’t go down too well with tired legs from a full week of skiing and we nearly lost complete motivation several time whilst bootpacking in sometimes knee deep crust. We persevered until about 50m short of the summit ridge when the clouds started to roll in and the soft surface snow started to refreeze.  The skiing was tricky and required concentration due to the breakable crust underneath and general variable snow conditions – not great fun but still a good day out in the mountains with good company in a spectacular setting….

Hiking up the glacier towards the wall of dreams and nightmares. the couloir is up a small glacier to the left. Lots of ice on the Petit Jorasses!

Hiking up the glacier towards the wall of dreams and nightmares. the couloir is up a small glacier to the left. Lots of ice on the Petit Jorasses!

Dave boot packing the couloir. It was often very slow going.

Dave boot packing the couloir. It was often very slow going.

Dave starting to ski. we thought it was going to be good but we were wrong...

Dave starting to ski. We thought it was going to be good but we were wrong…

Looking down the Couloir with the Grande Jorasses in the back ground.

Looking down the Couloir with the Grande Jorasses in the back ground.

Lower down the couloir.

Lower down the couloir.

Time for a few days off. e.g work.