Saturday, February 02, 2013

Four seasons in a week

Just finished a continuous 10 day stint of skiing in every type of snow and weather. At first the conditions had been very cold and this meant that the snow was preserved well. Although it hadn't snowed for a bit, with some effort a lot outstanding descents could be found. I spent the 1st 3 days with Reuben & Fiona Berg, a day at Le Tour then an exceptionally good day in Courmayeur and finally a stella day in Geittaz which if you know where to go has some of the best skiing in the alps.
Next Kevin Tuck and his pals turned up for some suffering. Ski touring with hangovers. We had a memorable traverse

of the Aiguille Rouge via the ski tour know as the Balcon Sud, capped by an outstanding descent to the col du Montets. This ski tour ended by what was probably the 1st British descent of a new line: The railway line to Vallorcine. [It was closed for refurbishment]

The next group of victims turned up on the Monday. Andy Chetwood, Tanya Thompson, Laurence Whyatt and Mike Dowling had an ambitious plan to traverse the Monte Rosa ski area over the col de Lys and down to Zermatt. Needless to say the weather stopped this idea even before they arrived. So the consolation was a perfect day of powder skiing in Combloux/Giettaz.
The bar was therefore set high in terms of what the group expected. However the wind picked up and increased the avalanche risk significantly which meant on our second day the descent of the Berard Vallee called for some careful route choice as there was a lot of spontaneous wind slab release.
On the Wednesday the wind was even stronger as we battled our way to the top of Punte Croce high above La Thuile.
Thursday , just when we thought the wind might calm it blew harder as we skinned up the Argentiere as the Grands Montets lift system closed around us due to high wind.
On Friday we awoke to tropical rain. Everything was shut in Chamonix. I decided to take a long punt on traveling through to Italy. We drove through the tunnel and it was raining even harder. The car-park was awash. The only glimmer of hope was that the descending cable car came down covered in snow. As we traveled up in the lift the gamble had paid off. We had a memorable day tree skiing with some very good snow conditions.

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