One of my biggest dreams was to ski the mythical Couturier Couloir off the mighty 4122 m Aiguille Verte…in powder. From one of the wildest summits in the Mont Blanc Massif a 1000 m of sustained 50/55 degrees. I went up to the refuge prepared for a solo adventure. I knew Gabriel Rivas was heading up with some other friends though he was wanting to ski Col de la Verte. In the end Gabriel teamed up with me and yesterday that dream became reality. Twenty years in the waiting, lots of sacrifices to obtain this one including many jobs, and it lived up to all expectations. What a mind blowing adventure. Great snow, amazing company, intimidating situations with the smattering of snow and the ever present death ice out right acting as a constant reminder to go canny. The line went clean using the lower traverse into the Washburn variation. SUPER STOKED.
After we chatted on the rognan col for a long time and said our goodbyes, I wanted to drink beer and Gabriel was gonna straight line across to the Argie hut to stay another day.
Down on the flat glacier below, a moments lapse of concentration and Gabriel hit a block of ice at speed and tomahawked hard into other blocks of ice. Would you believe it – we’ve just skied the Couturier??! When I got to him I could see the impact on his helmet had probably broken his nose. Struggling to breath and with lots of internal pain, it was an easy decision for me to call a rescue chopper. 3 years ago I javelined head first into the ground out riding and the damage to my back almost prevented me breathing so I could imagine where he was at – its pretty scary when your ribs cage locks out, completely different to being winded which is bad enough, more like drowning – when I flew to the Netherlands the next day for work I had to get Alan White to carry my bags!
Fortunately the rescue was quick, unfortunately Gabriel suffered 3 broken vertabrae, 2 broken ribs and contusion to a lung. Get well soon Gabriel and thanks for an all time day. I drank your share of the beer last night too!
Sustained crack climbing after the easy intro pitch was the order of the day. A beautiful burly route on fantastic granite.
Me on the 6b warm up pitch.
Gareth seconding the 6b warm up pitch
Gareth engaging the 6C P2
Burly laybacking approaching the belay
Bulgy with a gravelly mantel onto the belay ledge
My view as I weigh up the physical layback and foot smears that lie ahead
And the view down from the belay
Gareth arriving at the belay after the crux 7A pitch
A German team behind starting off on the crux
Pulling hard on finger locks here.
Wooden wedges on the final traverse pitch