Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Genepi N Couloir

It’s been another busy few days here in Cham, with no sign of any more snow, but plenty of sun to enjoy the vast amounts of the white stuff that we already have.

After a run down the Pas de Chevre from the top of Grand Montets last week, I spent the weekend with my sister who was out visiting, and we took in a stunning day up at Le Tour with “Granny” Abs and “Youth” Pete, a good walk up below the Argentiere Glacier, and some hardcore tourism. Very civilised.

 Me on the Pas de Chevre. Photo Jack Geldard.

Ginger Ben shredding the Pas de Chevre while Jack takes the photo.

Jen Boscoe at Le Tour

I was really enjoying doing the tourist thing, but with Jen gone I couldn’t avoid getting my skins on any longer, and so headed up with Matt, Tristan and Peter to do the N Couloir of the Genepi (2884m), above Champex in Switzerland. A bit of a late start (some things never change) meant that we weren’t skinning until 10.30, but with a track in we made good time through the initial forests, and were soon shooting up the steep approach gully into the stunning cirque below the peak. As ever when out with 3 oil rig workers, the conversation was both high brow and clean, and focused mainly on politics, literature and occasionally what the role of women is/should be, so the climb passed fairly painlessly.

Having seen the Couloir from below, and the many similar looking ones surrounding it, we all agreed that the next time we came up we’d be bringing a tent and staying for a few days of steep skiing. However, with only 3 hours of daylight left we stopped planning future trips, and got stuck into the final boot pack up the N couloir. Some nice Swiss people had been up there recently and put in a track, so it only took around 40 minutes from taking skis off to getting to the top. As ever in the Alps, the views were incredible, the silhouetted Aiguille du Chardonnay probably being the highlight.

Tristan checking out the view.

Matt arriving at the top of the bootpack.

Me just about to drop into the Couloir. Loving it. 

As if the views weren’t enough, the ski down was just perfect. The Couloir itself was firm, grippy snow, ideal for steep skiing, and though it is sustained at 40 – 45 degrees we were able to ski it pretty fast and get some good turns in. From the bottom of the Couloir it took us about 40 minutes to ski down through the terrain we’d climbed earlier in the day, most of which was soft and great fun to ski. Even the forest at the bottom was pretty straightforward and we were back at the car 6.5 hours after setting off, which felt pretty good for 1600 metres of height gain and loss.

Tristan in the Couloir.

Me further down and still loving it. The descent goes down the obvious bowl behind me and then drifts right through the trees to join the main road between Champex and Martigny.

It’s getting to the stage where it would be nice to see some fresh snow, but days like today just go to prove that there is no shortage of good skiing just yet.