Y Couloir, Aiguille d’Argentiere

All the North wind we have had has filled in the right hand branch of Y Couloir really well this year and I have been wanting to go there for some time. I was weighing up going solo to Croullante or going to the Y but persistent afternoon cloud on the Aiguille du Midi made it an easy decision to go for Y off the first Grands Montets bin. Late in the afternoon my friend Kirsti Lehtimaki from EPIC TV messaged me saying she wanted to ski and had a friend coming too. Next morning her friend Matthieu Vigier came along with Chloe Laget and Couttet Berbere so we had a sociable skin up the classic Millieu Glacier. The lack of snow meant very firm conditions on the way up and we used ski crampons for the 1400 m climb.

On the summit there was a cold 5 kph wind blowing and I didnt linger long wanting to find the entry to the couloir, having only skied the left branch before. In the couloir it was thankfully a bit warmer and after passing 5 m of rocks at the top we put on our skis on flat corning spring snow.  SAM_0014

Y Couloir (TD, 45 degrees, 5.1/5.2 600 m) as seen from Col des Courtes. Its the big line branching below the summit of the Aiguille d’Argentiere (3901m). P1020001Y Couloir with the 60 m step at the base with the stunning golden granite spires.20150318_11560120150318_131236

Julbo Aerospace goggles – the ultimate variable venting bootpacking and touring goggle. The big lines of Couturier and Au Coeur du Monde or Col Aiguille Verte right hand (1st and only? descent by the Scottish extreme ski legends Paul MacLeod and Ewen Moffat with the Dane Thomas Husted in 2001).20150318_131958

The North Wall of the Argentiere Glacier – a lifetime of extreme ski dreams in one place. 20150318_132000
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Me happy on the summit. 20150318_133459

I was really happy to see such good conditions and lots of direct sun.
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Matthieu skiing cautiously between softer patches. The Black Crows Navis Freebird is an astonishingly good ski.20150318_144318

Kirsti skiing ice axe in hand!11074943_10153079292175932_2036905535_o

Me in the upper section, Thanks to Kirsti Lehtimaki for the photo.11076554_10153079292225932_1955151801_o

Still on firm snow at this point and putting in the chop turns to avoid any uncontrollable build up of speed.SAM_0016

Chamonix Ski Album 2014

I’m just back from an amazing 5 week adventure skiing couloirs in the remote fiords on Baffin Island. Before I left I didn’t get a chance to post this collection of photos from the Chamonix season (which has only just ended – btw). The season went by quickly for me and my focus was more on skiing than photography but there are still some images worth sharing.

More on Baffin later but here you go, lots of diamond studded memories from the Chamonix season thanks to: Michelle Blaydon, Dave Searle, Liz Daley, Davide de Masi, Cedric Bernardini, Mikko Heimonen, Kirsti Lehtimaki, Minna Rihiimaki, Tom Grant, Luca Pandolfi, John Minogue, Dave Rosenbarger, Greg Roche, Bjarne Salen, Jeremy Bogen, Seth Morrison and many others.

Chamonix skiing 2014-2-2 Cedric Bernardini

Chamonix skiing 2014-124 Cedric BernardiniChamonix skiing 2014-123 John MinogueChamonix skiing 2014-122 John MinogueChamonix skiing 2014-121 John MinogueChamonix skiing 2014-120 Chamonix skiing 2014-118 Chamonix skiing 2014-117 Dave Searle Chamonix skiing 2014-115 Chamonix skiing 2014-114 Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-113 Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-110 Chamonix skiing 2014-107 Chamonix skiing 2014-106Dave Searle and Liz DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-105 Chamonix skiing 2014-104 Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-103 Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-101 Searle, De Masi and DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-100 Liz Daley, perma-stoked
Chamonix skiing 2014-97 Searle, De Masi, DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-96Dave Searle and Liz Daley
Chamonix skiing 2014-94 Liz DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-93 Liz DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-92 Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-91 Liz Daley Chamonix skiing 2014-88 Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-86 Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-85 Michelle Blaydon, Caroline Gleich and Colin HaleyChamonix skiing 2014-82

Greg RocheChamonix skiing 2014-81 Dave Searle and Mikko Heimonen on Aiguille VerteChamonix skiing 2014-80 Chamonix skiing 2014-79 Chamonix skiing 2014-71

Dave Searle and Mikko Heimonen en route to CouturierChamonix skiing 2014-70

Chamonix skiing 2014-69

Me in the boxChamonix skiing 2014-68 Chamonix skiing 2014-67

Michelle Blaydon after the Domenech CouloirChamonix skiing 2014-66

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-64

Mikko HeimonenChamonix skiing 2014-63

Mikko HeimonenChamonix skiing 2014-62

Mikko Heimonen, Kirsti Lehtimaki and Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-61Ross Hewitt
Chamonix skiing 2014-60

Tom GrantChamonix skiing 2014-59 Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-58

Dave RosenbargerChamonix skiing 2014-57

Spines in the DolomitesChamonix skiing 2014-56

RH in Holzer

Chamonix skiing 2014-55

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-54 Chamonix skiing 2014-53

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-52

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-51

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-50

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-49 Chamonix skiing 2014-48 Chamonix skiing 2014-47

Kirsti LehtimakiChamonix skiing 2014-46

Minna RihiimakiChamonix skiing 2014-45 Waiting at the MidiChamonix skiing 2014-44

Courmayeur to myselfChamonix skiing 2014-43 Liz Daley Storm Riding

Liz Daley

Chamonix skiing 2014-41

Davide de MasiLiz Daley Spine Riding

Liz DaleyChamonix skiing 2014-38

Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-37

The powder panda attracting looks from the localsChamonix skiing 2014-36

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-35

Jeremy Bogen

Chamonix skiing 2014-34 Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-33

Liz Daley

Chamonix skiing 2014-32

Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-31

Jeremy BogenChamonix skiing 2014-30

Davide de Masi Chamonix skiing 2014-28

Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-27

Davide de MasiChamonix skiing 2014-26 Chamonix skiing 2014-24

Michelle Blaydon before skiingChamonix skiing 2014-22 Chamonix skiing 2014-21

Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-20 Chamonix skiing 2014-19

Dave SearleChamonix skiing 2014-17

Dave Searle, Bjarne Salen and John.Chamonix skiing 2014-15

Bjarne Salen Chamonix skiing 2014-13

Ross Hewitt – CouturierChamonix skiing 2014-12

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-11

Michelle Blaydon

Chamonix skiing 2014-10

Michelle BlaydonChamonix skiing 2014-9

Seth MorrisonChamonix skiing 2014-8

Seth Morrison and Nate WallaceChamonix skiing 2014-7

RHChamonix skiing 2014-6 Chamonix skiing 2014-6-2

RH on Aiguille VerteChamonix skiing 2014-5

Minna RihiimakiChamonix skiing 2014-5-2

RH, WhymperChamonix skiing 2014-4

Luca PandolfiChamonix skiing 2014-4-2

RH in WhymperChamonix skiing 2014-3 Chamonix skiing 2014-3-2 Dave Searle and Mikko Heimonen in CouturierChamonix skiing 2014-2 Chamonix skiing 2014-2-3Dave Searle in Couturier

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!

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