Friday, March 18, 2016

Its a bit like skiing only different.

February was frustrating in that the weather and the temperature was all over the place. Then along came March and the conditions were as good as February was bad.

Although it did not snow a lot because there was lots of snow and it stayed cold we had some brilliant descents. In mid March I was joined by Laurence Whyatt Mike Dowling and Luke Thorne for 6 days of ski touring.
On the Sunday we skied at Le Tour , mainly from the lift system yet we did use the skins to venture over into Switzerland and have a look down the Rhone valley towards Martigny.

and importantly un tracked snow.

On the Sunday we headed up from La Flegere and climbed up to the Breche du Berard

On the Monday we ran the gaunlet of the Grands Montets lift system , skied down from the summit of les Grands Montets crossed the Argentiere glacier and skinned up to the Col du Passon. It was very busy because the route is now the new Haute Route - route, as the col du Chardonnet has been rendered in practical by global warmings effet on the height of the Argentiere glacier making it difficult to climb up the first part of the Chardonnet glacier.
The final climb of the col du Passon is done with skis carried on the rucksack and crampons strapped to the boots.

The descent to le Tour was more eventful than I would have wanted. I choose to try and ski the snow which had been left un affected by the sun. This gave some fantastic skiing but ended up above some inconvenient cliffs. When we we arrived there was a bunch of Swedes who had taken to rapelling down some nasty looking overhangs. I didn't fancy this so we stuck our skins on and found another exit , which in fact gave the best skiing of the day.

On the Tuesday we ran the next gauntlet of the Aiguille du Midi. We arrived at 8.00am to find it wasn't actually open. The reason was that they hadn't managed to clear the snow from the terraces. [Of course the back-story is that they have cut staff numbers so heavily is that they don't actually have the people to do the work this despite it is the biggest generator of cash in France.]

This meant we were late starting , fortunately the boys were quick. We skied down the Vallee Blanche to just where you can stick on your skins and climb up to the Col du Toule. From there we negociated the steps , then ladders.

We then skied down the glacier du Toule in 30cm of fresh snow , which because the Aguille du Midi was so inept at opening on time, the snow was pretty trashed by the sun by the time we got to the middle station at Helbronner. We then took the cable car back up and skied the Italain side of the Vallee Blanche in the afternoon.

On the Wednesday the weather was indifferent for Chamonix so we headed away from the bad weather to Combloux. We climbed the Petit Coix Baulet and from its summit viewed [with smuggness] the bad weather in Chamonix.

From the summit we had a fantastic descent down to Geittaz but not before missing the bridge and having to make a river crossing.

On the Thursday we headed back to La Flegere and this time climbed up to the Col de Encranaz . This gave us some of the best skiing of the 6 days .

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