…days like these… Trappier and NE Couloir of the Tricot.

More days like these..please.

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NE Couloir of the Tricot taken from the hike up the Trappier.

With the much needed return of the pow at the end of last week we were all ready to hunt out the goods. After a few days squeezing midi laps between the clouds we had a hankering for something a bit bigger and less crowded. Sometimes the amount of people out skiing the midi astonishes/frustrates me.  It’s great to see so many psyched people, don’t get me wrong, but its not fun to have them all pilling in on top of you into a couloir sending down rocks and snow. Anyway…rant over!

The last few days ski touring have been super fun and it’s been great to get away from Midi lift for some mini adventures from the Bellevue cable car in Les Houches.  Still with a non-splitter forecast on Thursday we managed to fit in a lap of the Trappier Couloir in pretty epic conditions.  I’d done this line a few weeks ago but It was good to go back and ski it in near perfect pow. On the way up we had scoped an awesome looking couloir in the Bionnassay Basin and decided that it would be the objective for the day after.

The access to the NE couloir of the Tricot was fairly straight forward. A short skin from cable car up the train tracks brings you to a point where you can ski down onto the lower glacier. From here another 1.5 hours worth of skining up the glacier floor (on the left bank/lookers right) leads you up to the base of the couloir.  The basin itself reminds me of my time in the Himalayas (except with more snow) with towering glaciated faces all around which gives you a feeling of insignificance compared to the massive mountains.  We changed to crampons and booted our way up the couloir marveling in the quality of the snow and the stunning surroundings.  Here’s some shots of the Trappier and The NE Couloir.  (Click on a shot to take you to a slideshow format).

All told this was one of the best descents of this season so far for me.  Good friends (Ross Hewitt, Liz Daley and Davide de Masi) good powder, good surrounding and above all a good sense of adventure. It was super nice to feel really comfortable ripping GS turns down steep snow again.  Looking forward to more big days in the hills soon but for now I need to give my legs a rest!

The last week.

Has been a blur of fun days hanging out with good friend climbing and skiing. Nothing of any major note but always fun and always interesting… For me at least anyway!

About a week ago we headed up to the Minaret in the Argentiere basin to have a look at a route called Versant Satanique. This amazing and completely splitter 9 pitch 6b+ which forges its way up through some impressive terrain has some amazing climbing and damn near perfect red granite.  Myself and Liz managed to get 7 out of the 9 pitches climbed before the sun left us for day. I’m super keen to get back on this amazing piece of rock to finish of the route. Unfortunately along the way I managed to drop my faithful and trusty Canon S95 camera which took the 200m fall down the cliff and onto the glacier. Needless to say I have no photo’s from that outing or subsequent outings, Everything happens for a reason though and I decided it was high time I got an upgrade so I’ve splashed out on the S100 which I’m currently waiting for to arrive. Luckly Liz snapped a few shots of us as well as doing a bunch of filming for her Epic TV series The Daley Splitter. Keep your eyes peeled for it on Epic Tv.

On Versant Satanique

I’ve had to resort to using my go pro for the last few days to capture some stills from a few fun runs down the West Face of the Midi. Its good to see some fresh snow out here again and it makes a welcome change to ice, slush and sastrugi.  Touring should be good in the next few days/weeks so hopefully they’ll be some more good days soon!   Here’s some shots from the last few days.

 

One Excellent Morning…..

With reports of thigh deep snow and with a blue-bird weather forecast it seemed like the only sensible thing to do was to head through the tunnel to Italy. It’s been super windy here all week in Cham with gale force winds off the summits and some nasty foehn wind in the valley which stripped trees of their branches and moved huge quantities of snow around.  Italy however, didn’t disappoint.  While it lasted.  As normal, by midday the snow was super heavy, super deep and super dangerous.  After we’d finished skiing we were sat enjoying the sunshine and coffee when a huge gust of wind and snow swept through the streets of La Palud.  A massive avalanche had come off the south face of the Grande Jorasses and gone airborne across the valley.  Any talk of further skiing was stopped. Like I said, it was fun whilst is lasted!

Y Couloir, Aiguille d’Argentiere. One of those days….

……..that I’ll never forget.  Great snow, perfect weather, 5* line and good company.  What more do you need from a day. I had skied this line before 2 seasons ago in spring corn and always thought I could do one better and get it in pow. Yesterday that happened and after a hesitant start me and Liz Daley were soon ripping down what can only be described as one of the best days I’ve ever had in the mountains.  I had decided I wanted to go up a mountain rather than up a boring col and when I suggested this to Liz she seemed pretty keen.  Although she also said she was “like a fat girl at the prom…..I’m just happy to be here!”

I knew it was good to have options so we decided to go to the Argentiere so we had a choice of 3 possible ways down, the Milieu glacier (not much fun but an easy enough descent), the Barbey couloir (not done it yet and looks sick) or the Y couloir.  After getting our sorry asses to the summit we had ruled out the Barbey due to the lack of snow on that face so decided to look at the Y.  At the top of the couloir we looked in and couldn’t decide what it was. Pow, crust, ice?  Its hard to tell from above so I had the bright idea to chuck a rock in to see what happened.  (Note; it was 2.30pm and we couldn’t see anyone coming up so we were 90% sure we weren’t going to kill someone by doing this)  I chucked a fist sized block in and…..pooooff. It disappeared in the pow. It was on……

Liz’s TR here

Skins on.  Despite Liz being a split boarder she still got ready to go before me!

Skins on. Despite Liz being a split boarder she still got ready to go before me!

Skinning up the Milieu

Skinning up the Milieu

La Sportiva Lo5's ready for the ride.

La Sportiva Lo5’s ready for the ride.

Side stepping the very top.

Side stepping the very top.

Athletic.

Athletic.

Aesthetic.

Aesthetic.

Liz getting it fresh.  No old tracks, no bootpack. Peeerrrrfeccckkkk

Liz getting it fresh. No old tracks, no bootpack. Peeerrrrfeccckkkk

Arc'in

Arc’in

Spinal

Spinal

entering the lower section

entering the lower section.

Fly'in

Fly’in

Den we got some sunnnnn

Den we got some sunnnnn

The lower couloir is super nice....

The lower couloir is super nice….

Courtes in the back ground.

Courtes in the background.

Low down in the couloir,

Low down in the couloir,

Just about to rap. One happy chap and a fat girl at the prom.

Just about to rap. One happy chap and a fat girl at the prom.

Till the next one folks….