Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ski Mont Blanc

The perfect companion to the route

La Jonction

27th-28th: Ski Mont Blanc via Refuge les Mulets. Route of ascent 'North Ridge of Domes du Gouter'

After waiting for the perfect weather window Plum and I set off on another adventure This time to the 'Grands Mulets' refuge from the Midi mid station, across the glacier du Bossons and la Jonction. This took about 3 hours and the snow bridges were not too creaky.

On day 2, we opted for a last out of bed/first on the summit approach. Thinking that our season of mountaineering and skiing would help us to the top. We left the hut at 2.30am; rather than taking the classic line up through the petit and grand plateau, we took the north ridge of the Dome du Gouter. This involved a considerable amount of 'boot packing' (ski's on back). it is however a lot safer as there is no risk of serac fall. This route joins the classic route at the Col du Dome du Gouter.

We hit a quick/steady pace and before we knew it we were at the Vallot hut. An emergency refuge below the summit of Mont Blanc. Here we ditched ski's and hiked over the 'Bosses Ridge', we got within a stone's throw of the summit but Plum was feeling pretty bad (since the previous night + lack of hydration + possibly altitude etc) we decided it was near enough for the day. It took us just over 5 hours to get here so I think we were on target for a 5.5 hour summit which would have been good. I didn't mind as I had been up there before and today had been a great journey nevertheless.

Sunrise at the Col below the Vallot refuge

Over the 'Bosses'

Skiing down the 'Grand Mulets' normal route. So pleased we chose not to ascend this route as you are exposed to serac fall danger for several hours. Oh and they are quite sizeable up here!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Lafaille Goulette - Mont Blanc du Tacul

23rd April : Lafaille Goulette D II/4 250m

Quick day hit on the difficulties of the Lafaille Gully. We abseiled from very near to the top of the difficulties. Weather didn't look good for the whole up and over today. Still, we did a very chilled out 250m or so of climbing then abseiled the route.

Plum taking the first pitch. A lot thinner than last years photos. Still, pleasant climbing.

Me approaching the top of the first( actual second) pitch

Getting thinner and more snowy towards the top
So we did about 4 pitches (1 was 2 linked) of climbing then hit this pitch. All the ice was rotten and falling out as Plum scratched his way up so we called it a day here.

In the centre of the photo, to the left of the Diable couloir is the Lafaille Goulette.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pyramid du Tacul

Winter Sun rock climbing at 3000m

19th June: East Arete Pyramid du Tacul (a bit snowy)

Fancied some variation today and it has been warm and dry for a little while, so off we went with ski's, skins and rock climbing gear and went to do the Pyramid du Tacul east arete. A very easy but beautiful rock route accessed from the midi lift. A bit of fun for a spring day.

After the ski/rock shoe transition

The best ever access to rock climbing - skiing.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Trois Cols

Once again, the beautiful Argenitere basin

Col du Chardonnet

We took the higher col to enable us to ski in. Unfortunately, the snow was rock hard so we chose the comfort of the rope for the first 30m.

14th April: Trois Cols

Ricks last adventure on this holiday and my last chance to break him. This route is a classic, not much skiing for the amount of walking but always traveling through stunning scenery.

So Ricks splitboard quest is over. The consensus being... better than snowshoes, heavier than a ski set up, splitboard ski crampons are 'the bomb!'

Heading for the col du tour

Rick enjoying April spring fresh tracks

Another party coming up, they ascended from the Col du Passon.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Col du Belvedere

12th April: Col du Belvedere

Another day of extreme shuffling (touring). Floria drag was closed, but we managed to get everything together and Rick , Plum and I headed up over the high traverse to Lac Blanc. From here we took a direct skinning line for the col.

This is one of the tours in the Aiguille Rouges that I had yet to do. Another one ticked off.

From the col, the weather was coming in. If you drop directly in to to the north/west side from the col, you are looking at a short length of 50+ degrees then a more steady slope of about 45+. Unfortunately, due to the lack of sun, the snow was hard pack and nasty.

Plum took a little ride down the couloir but managed to get away with a scraped nose! woops. Anyway, I managed to get to him and find one of his ski's. Then the mission was on to find the other. Fortunately it was about 500 or 600m further down the hill!

Not exactly a pleasurable day out but still a great adventure. It all finished well with beer and chips in the Hotel le Buet.

Got shafted by the weather today, was expecting a rough day of snow and cloud but it was a blue sky beauty! So unpredictable this week.

Plums turn to go first, there is also a rope in alternative.

After skiing down, I found Plum's ski, a good way down the mountain, daggered in below a serac band. Lucky! Worth zooming in on this pic.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Col de la Buche

April 9th: Col de la Buche

Spent 2 days trying to fix the van! And it is now working. hooray! At least we got out for this cheeky morning tour over the Col de la Buche. Pleasant day, only 3.5 hours and the skiing was a mix between soft snow, hard pack and spots of rubble. Still, managed to spend the rest of the day catching up on jobs.

The route goes from the Plan d'Aiguille (midi mid station) and traverses the moraine until you cross the Nantillons Glacier. From here you go up the descent route of Aiguille l'M. You ski from the Col to the mer de Glace. We descended ladders (the approach to the Envers du Plan refuge)
The ski descent is actually quite steep, about 45 degrees+.



Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Aiguille d'Argentiere : Barbey Couloir

6th April: Aiguille d'Argentiere : Mileau Glacier Ascent, Barbey Couloir Descent (NE Face)

Today's itinerary was fairly massive as we wanted to do a bit of fitness and acclimatising.

Grand Montets > Aig Argentiere > Ski Barbey Face > Fenetre Saleina > Col du Tour > Take the Col Passon ski descent to le Tour.

Ascent: approx 1500m Descent: approx 4000m

aka Guy and Plums Trois Cols or le Nouveau start to the Haute Route.

Today's descent, the Barbey Couloir on the E face of Aiguille d'Argentiere. 1000m TD ski. 50 degrees at the top for 30-40m then 45 for the rest.

Another party jumping into the next couloir over.

Plum striding out over the summit. Mont Dolent in the background

Me anxiously dropping in from the top. Babbing my pants.

Plum enjoying some turns, then more turns, then lots more. Long couloir!

Opens out towards the end.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Cunningham Couloir (off the bridge of the midi)

5th April: Cunningham Couloir

A fine day and we are giving the mountain routes a bit of time to come into condition so we went to ski the Cunningham Couloir. For this you take an airy free hanging abseil off the bridge into the atmospheric couloir!

Spot Plum abseiling into the Couloir. He nearly inverted due to his hefty massive powder ski's pulling him over! We made 4 abseils in total.

The top of the couloir is about 50 degrees but provided awesome skiing, no other tracks today.

Me following

The Cunningham Couloir

To finish, we crossed the Ronde glacier and skied the SW? Couloir. Long and lots of nice turns!

What a great day! Perfect skiing here today with great tracks down the Plan d'Aiguille (until it dried up). Shame we couldn't make two laps as the midi was just rammmmmed with tourists this Easter Monday!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Morning Tour : Col de la Buche

3rd April : Col de la Buche Attempt

After quite a drive (work) last night we still managed to be awake at about 7.30am so decided to go have a quick go of the Col de la Buche despite average weather forecast. After a bit of a skin and Rick having some problems with his skins not been trimmed quite right on his splitboard we decided to 'have it' down the Plan d'Aiguille face to Chamonix from the foot of the Blatiere.

Good turns once again. So this brings Rick's splitboard week initiation to an end. He is back in a couple of weeks for more turns and more touring! Maybe he would have had a spoonful of concrete by then.....

more snow due tonight!

Col du Passon - Good Friday Splitboard Tour

2nd April : Col du Passon

Had a good few powder days during the last week but today was due to be a good 'Beau Temps' day. We planned to do the Trois Cols from Argentiere. unfortunately everyone else was out for the sunshine! Stay at home peasants!

Didnt get to the top of big monty until 10.30am so just decided to go get good skiing over the Col du Passon! It was stunning! Fresh tracks all week! This time the powder was so good it was pouring in from the top of my jacket!

Super snow

Rick making big spray!

Up to the col, splitty split.

Over the Col and down we go!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Return of the Powder - Spring Plan d' Aiguille

1st April Le Tour > Plan d Aiguille

Have been skiing nearly every day this week. Snow is coming good and the blue sky is coming out tomorrow! Poor visibility today but we waited it out and then had great waist deep snow off the Midi mid station.

We had to walk out the bottom section but it was worth the turns at the top!