Y Couloir

The traverse of the Aiguille d’Argentiere is one of my favourite trips. Its a big mountain with lots of different lines to ski so there is always a plan B,C and D and when the track is in on the Milieu its pretty quick to get to on skins with a shortish bootpack up the headwall. The summit offers a commanding position with the north wall of the Argentiere basin lined up in front of you and unparalleled views of the Chardonnet south face and into Switzerland across the Trient plateau. Its no wonder Emile Allais was attracted to ski the Milieu in the 1940s.

Tom and myself originally wanted to ski the south west face of the Droites but unseasonally high temperatures kept us off the big steep faces and we decided to go to Y couloir. After having a look at the north face and Barbey (both look terrible) we tagged the summit at noon after climbing a short exposed steep wall of hard ice and wandered over to the top of Y couloir. We found the couloir well filled in for this time of year and conditions were just on the warm side of perfect with not a breath of wind allowing us to ski really quickly and get down out of the heat. Once again the summer heat wave has caused the glacier to drop and 45 m ropes are optimal for the skiers right abseil.

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