Thursday, 1 March 2012

Vallee Blanche Climbing & Skiing Conditions

With the sun still beating down and temperatures getting even higher (15 degrees in town today, compared to -25 at the start of the month : a 40 degree swing!), the only option for a day out yesterday was to get up high, so John and I decided to go for the Gabarrou-Albinoni line on the E face of the Tacul. 

Knowing how popular the route is, we scurried down the Midi arete, skied as fast as we could over to where you put skins on and.....there were people ahead of us, who had presumably stayed in the hut. The route is a perfect funnel and neither of us were interested in climbing it with stuff flying down so we thought we'd ski down and find something else to climb on the Tacul E face. As it turns out there is virtually nothing in condition, aside from the Gabarrou, it's neighbour the Modica-Noury, and the Pelissier Gully on the Pointes Lachenal. The Valeria, Chippendale, Lafaille gully and just about everything else is completely bare right now - sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

Admitting defeat we skied out the VB and found some pretty pleasant corn and spring snow, plus the odd bit of hardpack. The James Bond track was fine too so we were back in town by 11 and keen for another run. 

John on a fun little gully near the bottom of the VB

Having recruited Matt and Tristan we went for another lap, this time down the Petit Envers variation, and got some great snow, made even more enjoyable by not having all our climbing kit.

Tristan, Matt and John just above the Gros Rognon.

John mid way down

Matt near the bottom in another fun gully.

With the bubble lift up to the Montenvers closed (effectively making the Montenvers closed from a skier's point of view) we did the James Bond track again, this time with about 200 people! Luckily we managed to get down during a bit of a lull, but check out this photo to get an idea of it - 

Ahhh, the solitude of the mountains.

So no route in the bag, but a couple of really enjoyable VB runs, and some amazing views, finished off with a beer on the balcony, looking at ski lines and making plans for an epic spring....