Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mont Vélan par le Col de la Gouille

Mont Vélan, photo taken from the Valsorey Hut last spring.

25th & 26th January

It was time for a trip to Switzerland, and another unfinished project. We planned to ski tour Mont Velan, a beautiful summit overlooked during the Classic Haute Route.

Starting from Bourg St Pierre, you skin up for about 4 hours (took us longer due to crap snow) to the Cabane Velan. Which is open during the winter months and well stocked with wood. Mattresses and blankets are available. I found this day difficult due to the previous day, aching body parts, being unfit and the deep snow.

Plum, looking good....seeing to the stove

The huge Grand Combin which we overlook from the hut. The Plateau du Couloir route nips behind the dark semi circle shape halfway up on the right.

Morning, day 2. Heading for the Col de la Gouille. Our changed objective.

We had a good night in the hut, with a leftover bottle or Rosé and some pasta and with the stove cranked up. Our fitness is not the best at the minute, and the quality of the snow (with no tracks to be seen) was proving difficult. We decided to at least get over the Col the next day and probably miss the summit.

The next day was overcast and we had a nice skin up the the Col. Here you pull on chains (if they aren't buried) over mixed terrain to cross over the rock band.

At the Col de la Gouille

The descent, before the snow and cloud came. We decided to take a trip through the glacier, rather than skinning up and over. It paid off, phew.

Glacier tinkering...

Our route in descent from the Col.

Due to poor vis, the ski descent wasn't as good as it could have been, but at least we hit the right lines, didn't end up in any holes and made a speedy descent.

Pretty tired now. But good to get the fitness going finally for this season.

Grand Envers Ski & Breche Puiseux

24th January - Breche Puiseux

The Breche Puiseux is a day ski mountaineering trip from Chamonix. Plum and I decided we needed a leg stretch before our trip to Mont Velan on Monday, and we had meant to do this for some time. It was a nice morning becoming more overcast as the day went on.

The route consists of a long ski down the Grand Envers, then we skinned across the glacier by the Requin Hut and started up the glacier towards the Breche. 700m of bashing a track into some quite deep snow and we were quite knackered! Still, another 300m hike up a gully (snow was getting deeper!) brough us out at an awkward step near the top. The snow was badly soft here so we pulled a few mixed moves out of the bag to reach the breche. A lot more desperate than it should have been! Too much soft snow being the problem.

Still, hard work leads to awesome ski descents. There were no other tracks in this whole area!

Plum removing his skins, ready to start the soft snow swim to the top

Hard work, making tracks up the gully

A couple of small abseils later and we were next to the Grand Jorasses with 100m+ of fresh tracks to make

The Grand Jorasses up close

After, we ski'd out to the buvette and ski'd down the VB home run. Pretty knackered by the time we were done! Not quite fit enough yet....

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

'Wreck Your Spleen' / Drus Couloir

Plum and I headed up to the top bin on the Grand Montets today as we awaited the new snow that didnt arrive. Anyway, we though sack it, lets go do the Rectiligne. Now I have done the Pas de Chevre before but never really taken much notice as to where the Rectiligne Coulouir actually is. I knew it was somewhere skiers left of the Pas de Chevre bowls.

Here is a photo showing the various lines on this side of the Grans Montets (you will need to click it to view the routes as they are quite small). Here we can see the Nant Blanc Face on the Verte and the Drus North Face.

Blue : Pas de Chevre Combe x 2
Red : The way we went.... i think (Since discovered is known a the Drus Couloir or 'WreckYourSpleen')
Green: Rectiligne Couloir

As a description we skied left of the normal 2 obvious bowls and took what we thought to be the third couloir entrance from the right. We had some nice snow for several turns maybe 100m or so descent, then dropped into a steep 45+ narrow gully about the width of Plums ski's, there were some rocks in the middle which proved difficult to negotiate (i forgot my ice axe) but we got there. Sideslipped down to some 40-45 terrain. From here we could ski quality snow all the way out.

In Anselme Baud's book it reads,

'There is also a variant route to the left of the Rectiligne that is less aesthetic, more dangerous and has a delicate section across some rocks'

So I presume we ski'd this.

After, we ski'd out the Mer de Glace then hiked up to the Buvette and ski'd the home run. The run down was fine with ample snow covering.

Work tomorrow but it has been a great week.

Discussion here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=388891

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Toula Footage

Nice Work Plum on the on3p's with his video editing skills.

Here we have Plum with the helmet cam and a few shots of us skiing alongside! Check out the bear suit.

Verbier - Backflips

Off we went from Cham over the hill to Verbier, a short drive away.

Just cruising today razzing around the piste then discovered the delights of a big kicker straight onto a gigantic air bag.

Jen, Jools, Tom and I all got stuck in.....

Jen's Jump
and with this online: http://www.swatch.com/gb_en/shootmyride/smr_videoplayer.id-70832.html

Guy's Jump
also found this online: http://www.swatch.com/gb_en/shootmyride/smr_videoplayer.id-70833.html

WOOooHHOOOO more trips here I think!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Yeahhhh Come Onnnn Team America Rip up Italy YEAHHH

Mr Purple in his birthday suit

Arms and legs!

13th - Skiing Brevent with Jen, super snow covering superb piste
14th - Work
15th - Work
16th - Work
17th - Work + Bouldering Wall

18th Italy!
Ok so we are all brits (Charlie, Paddy, Plum & I) but we gave it the full sound effects....Team America with the whoooping and hollering yeahhhhhh down the Italian side of the mountain found an amazing amount of soft snow ready for us to rip up. We ski'd a massive 5500m or so of the white stuff with 2 laps of the Toula glacier and then a run down the italian side of the vallee blanche down back from Courmayeur to Chamonix!

Needs less words. it was emmsense.

Photogenic Toula

All the big boys were skiing fat powder ski's with 115mm undefooot and I was left with the old 85mm width. Please can someone buy me some new ski's?

Plum giving the new ski's their debut. Movie from the helmet cam soon!

Dodgy outfits and Charlie in his purple birthday suit was the call of the day.

Underside of the ski's....!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Envers du Plan

Tuesday 12th Jan:

At last, back in Cham and time for my season to start (all the work aside!)

Went with the newly formed 'tuesday club' (Charlie, Paddy, Andy, Emma and Myself) and we went for a wee hoon off the midi in bright sunshine. The main fixed ropes are not up yet and the normal route has seen little traffic. We took the Envers du Plan route which was great!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Weeks Work in Scotland over. Now season can start!

I have just finished running a series of Winter Skills Courses with Loughborough Students Mountaineering Club. What a week!

The valley ice is shaping up with the -21 temperatures we have been seeing up in the Glens. Unfortunately we experienced enough difficulty accessing routes (which would be completely covered making routefinding difficult).

Ski's would be the best right now!

Anyway, we all had a good time, I am really excited about getting back to Chamonix now, to get stuck into the season at last. No more distractions!