Winter Round Up

Its been a while since I posted a blog and thats mainly because after a few dry years it started snowing in Europe early December and kept snowing until the end of May. That meant it was a pretty full on 6 months with very little time to put ‘pen to paper’ so to speak.

I started the winter with a herniated L5-S1 disc which caused muscle wastage, power and recruitment speed in my leg. For example if I tried to stand on my tip toes my left leg would sink until my heal was on the floor.  Thanks to the Osteo/Pro-runner Carlton Rowlands I mannaged a fast comeback.  The recovery went from the lows of skiing down the Midi arete in December and taking my skis off midway, unable to handle the vibration without nerve pinching and having uncontrolled leg movement, to basically doing my stuff and not holding back.

Mid winter also included 2 months of ski guiding and the IFMGA ski guides test which I am happy to report went smoothly for me. 3 exams down and all thats left is the final alpine test this August which I’m now fully focused on.

With a lot of my ski partners injured or retired, I did a lot of solo missions and decided to leave my camera at home and take the gopro out for a change to capture a few of my powder turns. I’m a very impatient person so taking time to make good edits while getting ready to go out the following day is not my strong point but it gives a flavour of how good the skiing in Europe was this year. These are all edits from the high mountain and arguable the most fun skiing was in the trees early December with an incredible base over the spines and ridges before the Christmas and January rain.

Here’s a few of the memorable days:

Col de la Verte with Drew Tabke

 

Mallory with Tof Henry, Arthur Ghilini, Nate Wallace and Chris

 

Mallory with Tof Henry, Jacob Wester and Babs Charlet

 

Pain de Sucre with Dave Searle and Guillaume Mars

 

Midi North Face – Col du Plan with Jacob Wester, Bird Early and Andre Dalkarl

 

Midi North Face – Col du Plan with Miilet de Papy

 

West Couloir, Aiguille du Midi with Miilet de Papy

 

Oreilles de Lapin with Michelle Blaydon

 

Cosmiques Couloir with Jesper Petersson

 

Rocco with Tof Henry, Benjamin Carvallo, Raimundo de Andraca, Galo Viguera

 

Rond with Tof Henry, Benjamin Carvallo, Raimundo de Andraca, Galo Viguera

 

Para Face with Cedric Bernardini, Luca Martini, Jamie

 

Cosmiques Couloir with Jacob Wester, Andre Dalkarl and Michelle Blaydon

 

Droites SW Face, solo from first lift on Aiguille du Midi, -30C morning!

 

Cosmiques Couloir with Michelle Blaydon

 

Oreilles de Lapin with Erik Wallner

 

Aiguille de Mesure NE Face, Aiguilles Rouges, solo

 

Solo skiing from the bend of Couturier in flat light as the cloud rolled in, then an afternoon sun run on Z de Papy the same day

 

Early February powder run on Col de la Verte from where it got rocky mid height

 

Solo run finding the complex line on Z de Papy

 

Skyway, Rond and Para Face with Jesper Petersson and Guillaume Mars

 

Solo training on the an icy Rond early season with a loaded arete

 

South Face of Tour Ronde into Brenva Glacier before Christmas with Michelle Blaydon and Morgan Sahlen

 

Col des Courtes with Tof Henry and Andre Darlkarl

 

Shoulder of Aiguille du Tacul with Michelle Blaydon, probably the best top to bottom snow quality I’ve ever come across

 

Pre-Christmas Couloir Cache into the Brenva Glacier with Tom Coney

 

A solo mission hitching through to Skyway, under the cables, Marbree and then back to Chamonix via the Valley Blanche. Marbree was so sick until I hit a rock and broke my 2 day old ski under the foot. It happened to be my left leg that took the shock which was recovering from the disc herniation onto the sciatic nerve route for that leg. After more than a little worry I’d suffer a setback, I woke up fine the next day. Lucky, very lucky.

More Couloir Cache Photos

Sylvain sent me through his photos from yesterday’s run:Couloir Cache-2 Couloir Cache-3 Couloir Cache-4With a lot of fresh cooking in this suntrap I tied on to make the traverse to the couloir.Couloir Cache-5 Couloir Cache-6 Couloir Cache-7 Couloir Cache-8 Couloir Cache-9 Couloir Cache-10 Couloir Cache-11 Couloir Cache-12 Couloir Cache-13 Couloir Cache-14 Couloir Cache-15 Couloir Cache-16 Couloir Cache-17 Couloir Cache-18 Couloir Cache-19 Couloir Cache-20 Couloir Cache-21 Couloir Cache

Couloir Cache

 

 

5 star day out in the Brenva cirque with Sylvain Reynaud. Never had it so good from the top to the bottom on this 2000 m run. 
Couloir Cache

The Couloir starts at the demi-lune. A very exposed traverse gains the entrance.Couloir CacheCouloir Cache-3CouloirCache-4Couloir Cache-5Couloir Cache-6Couloir Cache-7Couloir Cache-8Couloir Cache-9Couloir Cache-10Brenva Cache-11Brenva Cache-13Brenva Cache-14Brenva

Couloir Cache – the secret couloir

Yesterday I was invited to ski Couloir Cache and the Brenva glacier with Chamonix locals Cedric Bernardini, Luca Pandolfi and Sami Haapasalmi. I skied this run once last year with Philip Ebert and had fresh tracks and an amazing day out so was excited to go back. After skinning up to the col we found that a local Italian team had beaten us to the untracked line but we didnt mind as it turned out to be Luca Rolli and friend who was one of the team that first opened the couloir. This year the entry had a good snow covering so after a long rap we put on skis and edged along the 50 degree shelf that is undercut by a twisting couloir. Before reaching the start of our couloir we side slipped down about 15 m. Where last year were bare granite slabs, this year a foot of snow was sufficient to avoid further rope work. The snow was heating up here quickly so it was nice to get to the demi lune col that marks the start and be out of the danger zone.rectify this on the final small pitch above the glacier and aided by an almost excessive amount of caffeine intake fired off down. I’m still not sure what happened next but I felt a large jolt like I had carelessly buried a ski tip and got highsided. After a couple of tomahawks I landed a fakey snowplough and stopped. Looking at my gopro footage the tips didnt bury and I can only think my pole went through to the bed of the couloir as it got ripped out my hand when the strap snapped and my elbow feels like it got bent back the wrong way. Next time I wont pay any attention to Luca’s comments  and will be limiting my caffeine intake somewhat.

The remaining decent of the glacier was on lush powder and allowed us to swap turns  and savour the magnificent scenery all the way down to the tunnel entrance just in time for a pizza lunch in Courmayeur.

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Here is my gopro footage: 

Same run with more snow last year with Philip Ebert:

http://vimeo.com/21660494