Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Excess Boys 2018

Each year they come back and there is always the discussion of how long we have actually been skiing together. It seems that the core group have been back for 27 years which is a scarily long time. Mind you there are always new recruits to the group. This year the Excess Boys turned up with another candidate. A rather secretive chap who never revealed his real name. He clearly had had an interesting life. I learned that he had been the body double for Pierce Brosnan in the iconic bungee jump off the Emosson Dam in the James Bond film "Golden Eye," [not the actual jump but the Computer Generated Images, because he was the same height as Pierce.] Currently employed by the London Metropolitan Police he had recently been moved to a desk job in preparation for his imminent retirement from the Elite Police Sniper Team. This, I was told, is part of the dedicated hostage & siege unit which deals with Kidnappings and hostage taking. I learnt that the team deal with over 300 incidents a year and have the availability of six helicopters to rush them about London. It is truly quite remarkable the different people I meet through my job as a Mountain Guide. Off course the rest of the group was made up of more ordinary individuals , Chris, James, Adam, Kevin , Steve and Pete. We headed up to Le Tour , where the skiing was very good.
I also judged it was important to give everyone a recap on the use of avalanche transceivers, because even ex members of the Royal Marine Commandos sometimes need a recap. We manged to find a beautiful place to practice searching for buried transceivers. We even had the back drop of the famous Dam which you can just see in the background.
Such was the snow depth this season , we were able to ski in areas we had never previously visited and we got into some spectacular situations.
All in all the scene was very special
On the Sunday we all met at Les Grande Montets cable car station . I say all, yet we were a man down . Our James Bond extra, Police Sniper , ex mountain warfare Commando felt that the proposed days itinerary skiing amongst the seracs and crevasses of the Argentiere glacier was all a bit ordinary. Instead he decided he would be better off honing his telemark skiing technique on his own. The rest of the group may not have his killer instincts but they are as tough as nails; Faced with a queue for the top cable car at Les Grands Montets they elected to skin up instead of waiting in line with the rest of the world. This is either crazy or wonderful depending on your point of view. Their effort was rewarded because the snow conditions were such that we were able to make a high traverse through the seracs on the glacier des Rognons. If there is a more spectacular place to ski , then I haven't seen it.
The run then finishes with a ski under the North Face of Les Doites before skiing down onto the Argentiere glacier.
We then had a bit of a fail. I suggested we skin up the glacier to where there was a sunny spot for a picnic lunch. The only issue was the sun kept moving faster than we could skin. Eventually we just gave up and eat our lunch on the sunless glacier. But it was probably a small price to pay for an excellent day out.

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