A short edit from Luca from a day out on the Gabarrou route on Les Courtes.
PS – EPIC TV chose the title – not us!
Here’s the latest edit from Nate:
At last the Gervasutti Couloir on Tacul. A dream for over ten years. Each time I skied the Vallee Blanche there it was, like the ultimate temptress. Its one of my top 3 ski lines alongside the Couturier and Marinelli. All unbroken ski lines on stunning mountains.
Tom and myself headed up off the first bin and on Tacul met Nate who came over to the top to evaluate conditions with his connoisseur’s eye. It didn’t take him long to decide abandon his own plans for the day and come for an unexpected run!
My plan to go do West Couloir Integral was scrapped as soon as the Midi announced they were opening late. Being Sunday there was gong to be a lot of attention on the North Face from those on their day off work so we changed to touring kit and headed off to Cirque Maudit for some tranquility and to see what looked good. Tour Ronde looked pretty good so we headed there.
The day wasn’t without a few challenges; Bird must have dreamt he could actually fly so he left his axes at home, my crampon bail snapped at the shrund and Minna had to get there on alpine day wreckers (alpine trekkers). Somehow we made it!
The last time I did this we rapped between the faces so it was a good adventure to take the skier’s left line down the face through the mixed ground. Once again I had the pleasure to ski with Minna Riihimaki and Bird Early.
Into GS mode on the lower face. My POV with sluff chasing my tails.
The ski line we took on the Frendo with abseils shown by the dotted line.
I had gone to ski the Frendo 3 times this season, each time being thwarted by conditions; crusty down low, then rain runnels on the lower section and finally wind slabs on the upper half. So after a long productive winter, a lot of routes ticked and an ongoing chest infection, it was time for a break from the mountains and we headed to the Ligurian coast for some sun and warmth.
A few days down there soaking up the warm rays was just what I needed to recharge the psyche to ski another big line. It was with a small weather window after some spring storms that I then rushed back to Chamonix to see what was in condition. After a warm up lap in the Cosmiques to remind myself how to ski, I asked Bird if he wanted to ski Frendo the next day. Luca had also been wanting to do this line for a while now and got in touch with Ben making up two teams the evening before. We were set to go. In the morning Minna was psyched too so we ended up being the freeride 5!
The last time I was on the Frendo Spur was in 1997 and I was climbing it. We raced up the arrete in a blizzard hoping to get up round the top buttress before the sluffs got out of hand. We tied on for the final ice couloir placing gear on the rock just in case a big sluff came down. Once we got to the Midi I remember struggling to untie frozen ropes and take crampons. The lift was shut and we had to sit around for nearly 24 hrs until they de-iced the cables the next day. In stark contrast, this time, we enjoyed sweet sunshine and dreamy snow conditions from top to bottom – almost unheard of on a 1100m face at the end of May.
Maybe you don’t have to go to Alaska for spines and velvet powder after all! It has to be one of the most aesthetic ski lines in incredible situations. A very memorable day spent with friends.