Camping Time

Miage Aigle Dave Searle-6This week we Dave Searle and myself went back to the Miage Glacier under Mont Blanc’s Himalayan sized West Face with the idea to have a semi-rest day and camp on day 1 and then get and early start and ski a line mid-morning before it got too hot. I had some expedition kit to test out so this provided the perfect opportunity.  Miage Aigle Dave SearleMiage Aigle Dave Searle-2Miage Aigle Dave Searle-3

At the foot of the Miage. We soon got bored of load carrying in the heat and set up camp.Miage Aigle Dave Searle-4

Chilling out in the evening.

Miage Aigle Dave Searle-5My touring set up this season.Miage Aigle Dave Searle-6

Dave’s disco tentMiage Aigle Dave Searle-7

Our line for the day on looker’s right

Miage Aigle Dave Searle-9

Dave at the start of the 1100 m bootpackMiage Aigle Dave Searle-10

The shrund was bottomless and we roped upMiage Aigle Dave Searle

Sunrise
Miage Aigle Dave Searle-11Miage Aigle Dave Searle-2Miage Aigle Dave Searle-12

Upwards, on and on.Miage Aigle Dave Searle-13

The snow deteriorated due to being worked by spindrift so we skied the good stuffMiage Aigle Dave Searle-13Miage Aigle Dave Searle-14 Miage Aigle Dave Searle-3Miage Aigle Dave Searle-4Miage Aigle Dave Searle-15Miage Aigle Dave Searle-16 Miage Aigle Dave Searle-5 Miage Aigle Dave Searle-6Miage Aigle Dave Searle-17Miage Aigle Dave Searle-18

Friday’s Freeride

I headed into the neighbour’s back garden the other day with the usual suspects; Liz Daley (armed with her perma-stoke), Davide de Masi and Dave Searle. Our efforts were well rewarded and we found exceptional rip-able powder waiting for us in this long hallway. A fantastic day which was ended with a beer ontop of a mountain in the sun.
Liz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-1

All quiet, the cirque to ourselvesLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-2 Liz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-3

Let the dance beginLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-4 Perma-stokeLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-5 Searler, Liz and de Masi wishing they had spanking paddles (snow plates) in the deep powLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-6

This is going to be sickLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-8

Dave SearleLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-9

Liz Daley

Liz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-11

Davide de Masi superstylinLiz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-12Our line
Liz Daley Dave Searle Davide de Masi_-13Heading to the bar for a well earned cold beer

 

Couturier-Whymper on La Verte

Dave Searle and myself have been wanting to do a traverse of the Verte for a couple of years now combining climbing Couturier and skiing Whymper onsight. After all the free-riding in January and February I was up for an alpine traverse trip like this which offers so much in the way of adventure, challenge, unknown, excitement and great training. The Aiguille Verte is an amazing mountain at 4122 m and all its routes are long and demanding. We were joined by Mikko Heimonen.
C0uturier

Aiguille Verte on the far right with the 1000 m Couturier Couloir descending direct from the summit.Couturier Whymper La Verte-9

The sunny side of Aiguille Verte, Whymper Couloir descends right of the summit. 
Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale HeimonenCouturier Whymper La VerteCouturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-4Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier WhymperCouturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-5

Nearing the top of the Couloir and the end of the neve with black ice and seracs looming.Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-2Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-6

We threaded the seracs along a ramp in the sun above the rock.Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-3Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-7Mikko on the Verte for the first time.Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-9

Almost feeling Himalayan due to the cold, with 40 kph wind we were glad to get off the austere north side and into the sun.Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-8

Summit of the Verte for me!
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Panorama Aiguille Leschaux to Mont BlancRoss Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-8Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-12Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-13

Mont Blanc and the Chamonix AiguillesCouturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-14The wind tugged at our skis along the exposed ridge.
Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-4Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-5Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-6Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-15

The snow stayed pretty frozen with the wind.Ross Hewitt Verte Couturier Whymper-7Couturier Whymper La Verte Seale Heimonen-16

Chute Central

the chuting galleryThis week I headed back to the Miage area to ski some more of those massive 1000 m couloir lines with Michelle Blaydon, Kirsti Lehtimaki and Mikko Heimonen who had just landed in Chamonix. The powder has all been blown away leaving hard edge-able wind buff which made the boot pack a joy. First up was the line lookers left of the Bonatti which is reminiscent of a Domilimiti line with huge walls souring high above our heads. This line is overlooked since it doesn’t top out on the ridge but with 850 m vertical of skiing I don’t care. Probably the best couloir I have skied in the Mont Blanc Massif with a few hundred metres of 50 degrees at the top and an exciting ramp above some mixed ground. Second up was the 1200 m Domenech Couloir on the Aiguille de l’Aigle which we onsighted from the top. We arrived back at Zerotta in the Courmayeur ski area early afternoon and enjoyed relaxing in the sun and eating pizza and having a beer!Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-2 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-3 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-4 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-5 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-6 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-7

Michelle skiing.Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-8 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-9 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-10 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-11 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-12 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-13 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-14 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-15 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-16 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-17 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-18 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-24 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-25Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-19 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-20

Kirsti on the changing lines pitch.Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-21 Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-22

Kirsti skiing the lower couloir.Petit Mont Blanc North East Face_-23

Time to relax!

The Devil’s Spires

I had been wanting to ski the Macho Couloir off Col Diable for a while now but finding a partner who was free was proving challenging. My Black Crows team mate Tom Grant arrived back in Chamonix with his usual high level of psych and he was willing to go do whatever was good. It all looked set, the only minor setback was Tom being kicked out of the first cable car for missing a payment on his season ski pass. With that sorted he managed to jump the queue and caught me up as I ambled down the valley blanche scoping out conditions en route. Good job he did catch me up as it was super deep and we had to trench our way up sustained 50 degree slopes to the col, arriving there pretty tired mid afternoon after 5-6 hours of uphill. The ski down was exceptional with overhead blower and the 125 under foot Noctas eating it up, we just had to take care not to get sluffed off the face. Amazing conditions and just as well, this route is steep, exposed and technical. I loved it. High on the ridge amongst the spires staring down at the Grand  and Petit Capucins hundreds of metres below. I bet it would feel really steep in spring snow. Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom GrantCol Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-2Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-3

178 Nocta and PLUM YakCol Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-4Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-5 Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-7 Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-6Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-8Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-9Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-10

Tom negotiating the lower rocks. 

Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-11

Under the Grand Capucin

Col Diable Macho Couloir Tom Grant-12The route climbs behind the left hand spires onto the serac bench then up the headwall behind where our tracks can be seen.

Petit Mont Blanc – North East / Bonatti Couloir

Its was always going to be a long day, especially with the amount of bad weather we have had this winter that has prevented us getting tour fit. It was deep going in. Then it got deeper. By late afternoon as the couloir steepened up it got ridiculously deep where I expected it to get faster for booting. Even with snow plates I was waist deep and trenching, the others up to their chests in my trench. Our team of 5 were cooked. We called a stop about 150 m from the top and skied amazing pow in the glow of the evening light. Thanks to Michelle Blaydon, Kirsti Lehtimaki, Cedric Bernardini and Robes Parron for a stunning day. NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-2NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-3 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-4 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-5NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-6 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-7 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-8 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-9 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-10 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-11 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-12 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-13 NE Couloir Petit Mt Blanc-14

Meanwhile on the Remote Planet Hoth

I did a couple of training laps on the Midi West last week, one with Searler who broke himself on the Para Face at high speed and retired wounded in action, and one solo where an Italian lady fell down the icy Rond in front of me and got evacuated by heli, though I think it was more of a shock than any specific injury. Great turns and amazing snow.Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-2 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-3 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-4 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-5 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-6 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-7 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir-8 Dave Searle Midi West Couloir