We went over to Verbier for its opening day and enjoyed a fantastic day of endless powder – here is a little edit from the day. Lets hope it stays cold now! The ski season has got off to an amazing start this year after the last two dry years. I started skiing again on the Midi about a month ago and in the last two weeks Chamonix in particular got a load of snow.
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.
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.
We threaded the seracs along a ramp in the sun above the rock.Mikko on the Verte for the first time.
Mont Blanc and the Chamonix AiguillesThe wind tugged at our skis along the exposed ridge.
This 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!
Time to relax!
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.
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.