Couturier to Whymper. The Great Connection.

Team Summit shot (L-R Mikko, Ross, Me)

Team Summit shot (L-R Mikko Heimonen, Ross Hewitt and Me)

This day has been a dream of mine and Ross for some time. We had talked about it for  three seasons and had yet to find the perfect day when all the stars were aligned. Sometimes its best just to throw caution to the wind and get out there and chase your dream, even though we knew conditions wouldn’t be ideal.

The plan was to stay in the Grandes Montets top station to make an early start to climb the Couturier Couloir to the summit of the Aiguille Verte. From here we would descend down the ridge to the top of the Whymper Couloir where we would start our descent on ski’s.

The climb up was less than ideal with several sections of black ice, some funky serac climbing and some deep crevasses to cross high up on the Grands Montets Ridge.  It was however mostly just steep snow climbing it still took its toll on the body and mind.  I took my lightweight ski touring axes with me, which weren’t perhaps the best tools for the job but I still managed to bash my way through the bullet hard ice sections. It was gusting pretty hard on the summit and we knew we had little chance of finding good spring corn in the Whymper. The wind was blowing straight onto the couloir and counteracting the suns affect of softening the snow.  We meet Seth Morrison and his partner at the top of Couloir. They had climbed up and reported that it was super hard snow. After watching them ski we knew it would be manageable but not pleasant but there was no talk of abseiling.

We jumped turned and scraped our way down the couloir.  Not in the best style admittedly but what little soft snow there was had already been scrapped and what was left was either very firm or slightly crusty. Not ideal ski conditions but we still managed to make it all the way down the face without getting the rope out.  This was my first time skiing on the Verte and my first 5.3 in hard snow. It was also Ross and Mikko’s first time on the summit which was a great moment to share. It was also my first time skiing with Mikko Heimonen, who is probably one of the most understated extreme skiers operating in Chamonix at the moment.

Thanks for a great day guys…even though you might count it as type 2 fun it will be one of those days that is etched into my memory forever.

Mikko’s pictures here 

New Support – Salewa, Wild country.

I’m pleased to announce that I will be working with Salewa and Wild Country as a regional athlete to help promote the two brands with an emphasis on Ski Mountaineering and Alpinism.  I’m pretty excited for what the future will hold with both these brands and I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the mountains to try out the new kit! Many thanks to the team at Wild Country UK for sorting me out.

WildCountry1Salewa

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

Gervasutti Pillar.

Gervassuti pillar

The Gervasutti Pillar is the slender pillar on the right of the obvious ice line (Supercouloir), Three Points Pillar is to the left. Photo taken in June 2012, there is much less snow than this now!

Last week saw James Clapham and I head up to the Gervasutti Pillar on the East face of Mont Blanc Du Tacul.  This is a route that has been on my wishlist for some years and it feels great to have finally laid it to rest.  I think we both underestimated its length and difficulty and it took much longer to climb than we were expecting.

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