Monday, 21 April 2014

Grand Montets Powder

Having been away from Cham for a week or so, I got back to some pretty poor weather over the first part of the weekend. However, the sun was supposed to be out on Sunday morning so Tom, Sophie, Sharon and I headed up to Grand Montets and were rewarded with some superb powder.

The snow had fallen on a really icy layer so you couldn't really rip it but after a long spell of warm weather it felt great to ski some cold stuff.

Sharon skiing off the top bin.

Sophie under the crevasses on the front face.

Cold smoke!

A final run down the Lavancher bowl.

As ever at GM, things got tracked out pretty quickly so we were home by 1. The weather is now back to grim but it will hopefully be tanking down with snow at altitude! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014


The snow forecast to arrive at high altitude earlier this week never really materialised, despite heavy rain down in the Valley, so after considering various adventurous options, Matt, Phil, Nora, Robin and I opted just to go to Verbier and ski the amazing lift system over there.

The terrain in Verbier is absolutely incredible and although the snow wasn't up to much, we had a brilliant day skiing everything from steep couloirs to mushy blue runs in everything from powder to crust and deep slush. I only seem to go to Verbier early and late in the season but having found yet more terrain over there, I think a powder weekend next January could be in order - it really is a great place to ski in just about any conditions.

Amazing scenery looking towards the Matterhorn from the top of Mont Fort.

Nora loving the low angled powder!

Nora styling it.

Matt jibbing on the way back to the Siviez lift.

Weird snow crevasses above the Dam.

Industrial skiing!

Phil was sure he knew where he was going.

Matt too.

An athlete's lunch.

The team under Mont Gele.

Phil and Robin with the Bec de Rosses behind.

Style personified from Phil on the airbag.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Aiguille Pourrie E Face

With the chance to get out for a morning, I was looking for something steep-ish, with quick access and (hopefully) decent snow. The E Face of the Aiguille Pourrie, accessed from the Cornu chairlift at Brevent, fit the bill so I teamed up with British guide Robin Beadle for a quick hit. 

The access from the Brevent lift system couldn't be easier but conditions for skinning aren't great so we bootpacked (instead of skinning) to the Col de la Gliere and onto the summit of the Pourrie. We had originally planned to go to the Col and just see what looked good but once we saw an American guide and his client skiing the Pourrie in good spring snow, our minds were made up.

American guide and client (high on the slope on the right) kindly checking whether the snow was any good. Photo Robin Beadle.

The skiing was excellent and the snow forgiving enough to make it all feel pretty steady but really fun. Having got down with time to spare, we skinned back up for another lap and the snow was even better for having had a further hour of sun on it.

Me heading out onto the better snow. Photo Robin Beadle.

First turn - the snow was awesome! Photo Robin Beadle.

Me heading in for a second lap. Photo Robin Beadle.

Robin at the bottom of the face.

Once done we skied out on what was left of the Lachenal piste and headed home via some extremely slushy blue runs and the Brevent lifts. An awesome half day hit!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Deja Vu on the Vallee Blanche and Toula

On Wednesday I teamed up with Dane, Brian, Dave, Matt and TK (the last 2 being the only ones not cool (sad?) enough to have a blog) for a sociable day up the Midi. We started by shooting across to the Pte Adolphe Rey and then skinned up to the Helbronner and skied the Toula Glacier in excellent spring snow.

Half the team on the Toula.

Back up at the Torino Hut, making the most of the fussball table.

After a couple of coffees at the Torino we shot off down the Vallee Noire in some of the best chalk I've skied all year. The views weren't bad either so the grins were huge!

Big Country.

Me on the chalk of the Vallee Noire. Photo Dane Burns.

With no firm plan for Sunday I figured that the same again wouldn't be a bad option. Not particularly imaginative perhaps, but why change a winning formula? This time I was skiing with Tom, Sophie and Sharon and whilst we expected the snow to be slightly slushier, we still thought we'd be in for a decent day and so it proved.

I've seen some funny sights up the Midi but this was a first. We somehow lost him in the chaos at the bottom of the Arete but I was fascinated to see how he was going to ski whilst carrying that bag.

Me on some amazing spring snow on the Vallee Blanche.

The day turned out to be excellent (as anticipated) and the snow still good but slightly slushier (as anticipated). The banter was superb too and lunch in Italy looking into Courmayeur is hard to beat so all in all a great mini adventure.

It's forecast to rain tomorrow so hopefully that will mean snow up high....

Monday, 31 March 2014

Pointe d'Orny NE Couloir

Towards the end of last week it seemed that there was still plenty of powder to be found on the north faces of the Massif but strong winds on Saturday appeared to have wreaked havoc. Lines skied in deep, cold snow on Thursday were wrecked by Saturday so Phil and I were hopeful but not overly confident of finding good snow.

We decided on the Pointe d'Orny NE Couloir, figuring that regardless of the snow, we'd get a great day moving through some of the best scenery in the Alps. 

Looking back down on the ascent route from the Col du Chardonnet.

Mean looking serac on the Aiguille d'Argentiere N face.

Phil at the bottom of the Col du Chardonnet couloir.

After skinning around to the Fenetre de Saleina, we shot across the Trient plateau and put skins on once again to reach the summit of the Pointe d'Orny. 

Phil on the Trient plateau with his fish filleting gloves on. The summit of the Pointe d'Orny is on the right and we skinned up the open slope on the far right of the photo.

Having had virtually no sleep the previous night (I'd been at the Piolets d'Or ceremony until late and then, crushingly, the clocks went forward), this final ascent felt pretty tough. Luckily for me, Phil seemed to be feeling it too so we took it easy. 

Amazing views from the top of the Orny.

Having reached the summit we gave ourselves a well earned pat on the back and tucked into an overdue lunch whilst taking in the awesome panorama across the Trient plateau.

Like a kid in a sweet store! From the summit there are endless couloirs and lines but we eventually decided to go down the ridge slightly to the left and drop into a route which didn't require an abseil.

Once in the line, the snow was good but not classic. Slightly crusty but still cold and really fun to ski. Smiles all round.

It took a lot of effort to push my 109mm underfoot Corvus skis up 1200m of vertical but it suddenly felt worth it, right They ripped.

Me about to drop in. Photo Phil Ebert.

On the top section. Photo Phil Ebert.

Phil on his third or fourth turn in the couloir, being hurried along by the massive snow mushroom above him.

Phil in the middle section.

Me getting about as close to a jump turn as I ever like to be. Photo Phil Ebert.

Phil wasn't really straight lining this bit, I just timed the photo well and put it in to boost his ego.

Phil near the bottom, looking pretty small compared to his surroundings.

Once out of the couloir we fired down the Val d'Arpette at high speed and were in Champex for 4pm, where Nora (Phil's significantly better half) came and picked us up on her way back from Lausanne.

All that was left was to gorge ourselves on a "heart attack on a plate" meal at MBC, made up of burgers, chips, onion rings, nachos and beer. 

Overall, a brilliant day, made all the better by the fact that both of us felt knackered before we set off and nearly bailed before we'd even started. Just goes to show that if you don't go, you'll never know. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Col de Beaugent

Matt and I had plans for a quick half day tour from the Plan de L'Aiguille today but as we drove past the Midi, one look at the crowds convinced us to head elsewhere. We figured that the Grand Montets would also be rammed so that left us with an easy choice to head to Flegere, where we thought we'd go for a quick dart over the classic Col de Beaugent.

The skin up was brutally hot and we paid the price for wearing kit appropriate for being in the shade, which we would have been if we'd stuck to our original plan. The scramble up to the Col was easy enough and then we shot over to the other side by hand-over-handing down a 30m rope and then downclimbing another 10m or so to where we could put skis on. 

Once on the shaded, north facing slopes the powder was amazing. Light snow, plenty of it and not many tracks about meant we had a fantastic descent. 

Matt (on the left) dwarfed by the scenery.

Once back at the Hotel du Buet we got a couple of beers with some friends and then got the bus home. All in all, a stress free day of skiing powder in the mountains - life doesn't get much better.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014


After 3 weeks of hot, dry weather the heavens opened on Saturday and it snowed hard, with more forecast to arrive sporadically over the next few days. Me like.

No need for words, here's the photos -