Saturday, February 17, 2018

Returning from the Dark Side

Sacha Kamp "was" a snow boarder and I very good one at that . After all he had lived in Chamonix and spent a lot of time in the mountains. He had even bought a split-board and done lots of touring on his split-board . May be this is where he saw the inherent problem with the split-board , there is no doubt that converting it from up hill mode to surf mode , is in less than perfect weather rather like pulling your own teeth out. So Sacha decided he should ditch his board and come ski touring. Sacha is an extraordinarily fast learner. We started our four days together at Le Tour , where the snow was fantastic. I showed Sacha how best to ski off-piste which he understood immediately and then we were off ! We skied over to Switzerland and were able to take in the fabulous views up the Rhone valley and also see what progress they were making in clearing the land slide on the Col Forclaz. The answer is Fuck All.
On the Sunday we headed off up to the Col Crochue. The conditions were so good that it was possible to skin all the way up to the col, where normally it is necessary to boot pack up the final section with the skis strapped on your rucksack. On the far side the snow was excellent.
We decided that the classic Col Berard part of the tour was not going to exercise us enough and so we elected to pass by the Breche du Berard.
This proved to be a good choice because we only saw two other people. On the Monday we headed to Combloux where we climbed the Petit Croisse Baulet. Unfortunately this was not for the view. Yet the quality of the snow on the descent down to Giettaz was very good . The forecast was better than it had been predicted to be and so at the last moment we decided to head into the Vallee Blanche. The intention was to skin up to the Italian side and ski the combe de la Vierge. Yet the cloud was billowing up and over from Italy . Plus it was very windy and the snow was very difficult to ski because it had an unmanageable wind crust. All in all we decided to content ourselves with a straight run down the route.
Finally the Mer de Glace gave us some unique entertainment by skiing down the central crevasse which in the summer takes the main river which dives into the glacier at the famous hole called the "Moulins." [Mill]

Monday, February 05, 2018

Bad snow good snow

It doesn't really matter if you have a base of 10 meters of snow or a base of 1 meter of snow if its all rock hard and icy. Your going to get fairly indifferent off-piste skiing conditions. Well we had loads of snow and at the beginning of the week and it was all bullet hard. Fiona and Reuben and I headed for Les Contamines where the weather was beautiful although there was evidence of some significant avalanches on the south facing slopes. The snow had subsequently frozen leaving a surface less than great for skiing on.
Wednesday we skied at Le Tour . The skiing was good , but still the snow was hard packed. Thursday everything changed - It snowed heavily all day. When its snowing you need trees so that you have definition. Chamonix doesn't have any decent off-piste tree skiing so we headed for St Gervais which does. The skiing was wonderfully varied with the obligatory stream to negotiate and some thigh deep powder. Lunch was good too. There are so many great place to eat in St Gervais.
On the Friday . Everything came together. We were blessed with a cold clear day fresh snow and no wind . We skied at Flegere and had one of those good as it gets days .