Drawn to the Dark Side

Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-1

Hotter than the Sahara.Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-2

Its times like these you need spanking paddles on your feet. Born in the Chamonix Valley these preceded poor imitations such as ‘verts’ and enable easy bootpacking in chest deep powder. Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-3

Minna about to cut the snow on the rope.Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-4

Making the turns count in the hanging couloir above the cliff before we went over the marshmallow on the left to the hanging snowfield.
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Someone needs to put in a bolt anchor in these climate change years as the old one on the spur is out of reach with skis on now forcing a tough transition to boots to bounce test the dark age slings. There’s good rock on skiers right that doesn’t have water ice under the snow like old anchor on the rib, perfect for skiing into the anchor.  Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-7Titty deep, you can’t argue with that.Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-8 Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-9 Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-10 Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-11 Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-13

Cold snow lying undisturbed with handfuls of hoar frost, above and below the last layer.Minna Rihiimaki Aiguille Rouge-14After the technical turns in the couloir it was stunning to just let rip down the meadows to Buet.

 

Touring Time in the Aiguille Rouge

It was pretty exciting waking up yesterday to a fresh coating of 40 cm of powder when snow has been so scarce this season. But that feeling was quickly replaced by anxiety knowing the lifts would open late and by that time everyone will be out of bed and queuing. We took the magic tunnel through to Italy, drank coffee and skied a quick 4 laps of the Entreve lowers which included a sensational spine feature where the sluff ran fast in the gullies bounding either side. Then it was back to Chamonix for opening time and freeride on amongst the pillows, rocks, roots and tree stumps of Plan de l’Aiguille. Too fast and too hectic to take photos. I was bushed by the end of the day and retired to my nest by 9 o’clock.

Today the plan was to go back for more but the lift company surprised everyone with late opening even though it hadn’t snowed. They must have worked too hard yesterday and had a compensatory sleep in today.  Anyway I felt a bit jaded today after a lot of freeride yesterday so we made a plan to go touring and give the back and quads a rest.

Today it was Dave’s turn to have a few trials and tribulations. First the basket on his pole broke, which means you soon find out how much your balance relies on poles when touring. Then after a lot of effort smashing in a waist deep bootpack to the start of the ski, his binding lock lever ripped off. Dave quickly made do with a ski strap wrapped round the low tech pins and I handed him the camera. He sensibly side slipped the first no fall section above cliffs, with a lot of worry whether his ski would stay on, but salvaged the bottom 2/3 of the ski down once we rapped the cliff. Shortly after we were savouring a pint in Buet.

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