Friday 4 March 2011

Capucin Couloir & Glacier de Mort

I've just come down from the second of 2 amazing, but very different ski touring days. Yesterday, Tom, Chippy and I headed up the Midi to do the Capucin Couloir near the Aiguille du Tacul. Being sheltered and north facing we were all pretty confident that it would be in good condition.

Getting across the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche was fine but once there it was extremely open, making things pretty nerve wracking and making us pretty relieved when we finally got to where you put skins on, opposite the Requin hut.

A very open Vallee Noire.

The skin up is about 800 metres, followed by 100 metres of easy boot packing.

Earning the turns

Chili con carne for lunch - life doesn't get much better!

Once at the Col du Tacul there is an in situ ab anchor, and then plenty more on the way down. Tom side slipped after one ab but Chippy and I did 4 short, awkward abs. I think with 60 metre ropes you could do one big ab, because the location of the anchors meant we ended up doing a couple that were only 15 metres.

Once we had skis on there is a short side slip and then a leftward traverse which leads to the couloir. The ski itself is fairly steep, with some sections getting to nearly 50 degrees, and very aesthetic as it is a perfect, uniform couloir. The snow is pretty average right now and quite wind affected, so we certainly didn't set any records for the speed of our descent, but it was fun all the same. Once off the steep section the snow was still pretty cruddy, so we were pretty miffed at having skinned up for hours only to be rewarded with such tough skiing but there we go. Once on the Laschaux glacier we were able to ski pretty fast and just about made the last train. All in all a great day but the skiing unfortunately isn't great right now.

Skiing the Capucin

Today Jack and I went up the Flegere to go and ski the Glacier Mort. Those in the know (clearly not me!) have been skiing the Aiguilles Rouges a lot recently and I'd heard plenty of good reports.

From the top of the Index chairlift you take the small Poma lift and then there is a short climb up the the Col Aiguilles Crochues. From there you traverse as if going to the Col de Berard but cut off right up an obvious couloir. We walked up it but you could skin a bit of it if you wanted.

Jack heading to the Col Crochues

Col Crochues

We ran into some friends of Jack's on the lift so it was all pretty sociable, and with the sun beating down it was nice and warm too. Some people ahead of us suddenly had a complete panic at having to walk up some 30 degree snow so whilst they sorted themselves out we had a nice lunch looking at a pretty amazing view of Mont Blanc.

From the top of the couloir we turned right and climbed about 10 minutes to the summit of a nice little peak and got the skis strapped on.

Matt and Andy on the final ridge to the summit

The ski itself is really nice, with a couple of short steepish (30 degree) sections which Jack did pretty heroically on seeing as it was only his second ever ski tour!

Once off the intial steep section the run is perfect snow and a perfect angle for really ripping it. The powder was incredible, and although tracked on the obvious lines, there was still plenty of easily accessible fresh bits so a very enjoyable time was had.

How good is skiing?!?

Once on the track to Le Buet the combat skiing really started, the highlight being when I suddenly shot off a blind drop of about 4 feet. With no warning at all it was all I could do to fall safely, let alone stay on my feet. Jack failed to understand why I was waving at him and so carried on at Mach 10 and shot off the same drop, the result also being a pretty heavy fall.

There is plenty of snow cover though so we were down pretty quickly and soon on the train home to Cham.

The Rouges really seems like the place to be right now so guess where I'm off to tomorrow!

Snow cover isn't that good!

Finally, I made a little video of our ski of the Capucin. Most videos (especially mine!) take themselves pretty seriously so hopefully this is a bit more light hearted.

Untitled from Charlie Boscoe on Vimeo.