Gabarrou

A short edit from Luca from a day out on the Gabarrou route on Les Courtes.

PS – EPIC TV chose the title – not us!

My tracks, Cordier-Gabarrou, Courtes

My tracks, Cordier-Gabarrou, Courtes

2013 – The Winter of All Time

Gallery

This gallery contains 58 photos.

The Frendo Spur

Frendo spur ski route

The ski line we took on the Frendo with abseils shown by the dotted line.

I had gone to ski the Frendo 3 times this season, each time being thwarted by conditions; crusty down low, then rain runnels on the lower section and finally wind slabs on the upper half. So after a long productive winter, a lot of routes ticked and an ongoing chest infection, it was time for a break from the mountains and we headed to the Ligurian coast for some sun and warmth.

A few days down there soaking up the warm rays was just what I needed to recharge the psyche to ski another big line. It was with a small weather window after some spring storms that I then rushed back to Chamonix to see what was in condition. After a warm up lap in the Cosmiques to remind myself how to ski, I asked Bird if he wanted to ski Frendo the next day.  Luca had also been wanting to do this line for a while now and got in touch with Ben making up two teams the evening before. We were set to go.  In the morning Minna was psyched too so we ended up being the freeride 5!

The last time I was on the Frendo Spur was in 1997 and I was climbing it. We raced up the arrete in a blizzard hoping to get up round the top buttress before the sluffs got out of hand. We tied on for the final ice couloir placing gear on the rock just in case a big sluff came down. Once we got to the Midi I remember struggling to untie frozen ropes and take crampons. The lift was shut and we had to sit around for nearly 24 hrs until they de-iced the cables the next day. In stark contrast, this time, we enjoyed sweet sunshine and dreamy snow conditions from top to bottom – almost unheard of on a 1100m face at the end of May.

Maybe you don’t have to go to Alaska for spines and velvet powder after all! It has to be one of the most aesthetic ski lines in incredible situations. A very memorable day spent with friends.

Frendo spur ski descent-14 Minna at the start and heading off to play between the sunlight and shadows.Frendo spur ski descent-15 Frendo spur ski descent-37

Luca on the upper slopes beside the buttress.Frendo spur ski descent-51 Frendo spur ski descent-54

A happy team.Frendo spur ski descent-55

Ben riding the spine in the next few shots.Frendo spur ski descent-87 Frendo spur ski descent-88 Frendo spur ski descent-90 Frendo spur ski descent-91

And the resulting sluff – photo (c) Paul Lang – thanks.Frendo spur ski descent-127

Minna at the start of the spine. Frendo spur ski descent-128

Minna just above the tower. Frendo spur ski descent-134

Bird’s energy levels were obviously rising fast as he waited to ski and he charges out the gate with great sluff management.
Frendo spur ski descent-147

Frendo spur ski descent-163

Luca heading to the tower. Frendo spur ski descent-166 Frendo spur ski descent-177

The Black Crows nest invaded by the Italian Cuckoo (I’m joking Luca!).Frendo spur ski descent-181

Last rap.Frendo spur ski descent-183Bird slashing out a few turns.

Frendo spur ski descent-187 Frendo spur ski descent-201Minna on the lower slopes which go on and on.
Frendo spur ski descent-203 Frendo spur ski descent-204 Frendo spur ski descent-206

Apres Frendo team shot. Well done to Minna – likely a first female descent.Frendo spur ski descent-207 Frendo spur ski descent-209

Bird was after more so went back up to speed-fly the line. That’s his wing just above the serac.Frendo spur ski descent-210

The wing is a tiny dot in this shot.Frendo spur ski descent-212

Frendo Fail

We went up to ski the Frendo and take photos but the overnight rain level had risen too high. Even Ben wasn’t keen for the hard snow on the lower half and the top half had only seen an angry inch.

The disappointment was soon at the back of our minds as we enjoyed some fast flowing velvet down an Envers variant reminding us that low angled can be really fun.Frendo team-2An unhappy Mikko

Frendo team-3Luca and Niki looking sad. Frendo teamThere will be no Frendo spine action today. Vallee Blanche - Ben BriggsBen cruising on the velvet.

Attempt on the Gabarrou Les Courtes

Les Courtes Gabarrou-2

Mikko, Tom and Ben chilling in the sun.Les Courtes Gabarrou-12 Les Courtes Gabarrou-14 Les Courtes Gabarrou-15

Mikko.Les Courtes Gabarrou-17

Luca arriving at the hanging glacier.Les Courtes Gabarrou-18

I’m not going well today and about to ski down. The guys blast on and ski from the summit.
Les Courtes Gabarrou-20

Luca coming up.  Les Courtes Gabarrou-30

I get great snow on the way down before it got hot. About 2 turns in a section 100 m wide ripped above the serac. Would have made a good photo from below.Les Courtes Gabarrou-33

Storm Riding in the Cosmiques

The 20% forecast with Foehn today was just good enough to ski a Cosmique. Its well filled in now and you can sidestep in a few metres at the top before skiing – no more rope faff! Definitely a nice relaxed Sunday run.

Cosmique Tom Grant Ben Briggs-2

Tom Grant Cosmique Tom Grant Ben Briggs-7

Tom getting a facefullCosmique Tom Grant Ben Briggs-20Ben Briggs

Pillow Lines

More fun in the backyard pillow lines at the powder factory.

Plan de L'Aiguille pillows1

 

Philip launching in.Plan de L'Aiguille pillows-11And riding out strongly.Plan de L'Aiguille pillows-13

 

Deep.Plan de L'Aiguille pillows-14

Deepest.Plan de L'Aiguille pillows

I probably need to move quickly!Plan de L'Aiguille pillows-2Ben testing his new ski acquisition.