Tuesday 26 November 2013

Pointe de Merdassier NW Face

It hasn't snowed for a few days now but temperatures have been really low so Tristan, Jack and I figured that we could still find some good snow. The direction of the recent winds seems to have resulted in the Aravis getting plenty of snow so we went to check out the Pointe de Merdassier, high above La Clusaz.


The Merdassier is the highest peak, on the left. The NW Face comes straight down the shaded bowl in the middle of the photo, in between the 2 obvious rock bands. 

The skin up the peak was nice but freezing cold, and when we reached the final summit ridge and started booting, things got even colder and windier. Randomly but very happily for us, there was no wind at all on the summit so we had an excellent lunch spot, spoiled only by me dropping the cup from my flask, which disappeared never to be seen again.

Jack and me on the summit.


Athlete food - a pork pie.

Stunning views across to Mont Blanc from the summit.

From the summit we did a short traverse into the NW face and then dropped in.

Jack traversing to the face.


A clear win for me in the effort:reward ratio stakes! Time to enjoy the big skis after the effort of pushing them up 900m.

The snow at the top of the face was pretty thin and involved some fairly amusing grass skiing...

After that the snow was quite crusty but got better and better until we reached the lower half, which was just perfect powder through the trees. 

Looking back up at Jack and Tristan on their way down the upper section.


Tristan in the first section of the good stuff. 

I'm still traumatised by the disappointment of the incident I'm about to describe but here goes...Having finally reached the perfect powder I hit a rock on my first turn, my ski came off as I face-planted, and then the ski picked up some speed on some firmer snow and shot off down the hill. Struggling to hold back the tears of disappointment, I skied down on one ski and the snow was so good that it was still fun even with half kit. The ski had lodged itself in a tree a few hundred metres down and seems to have suffered no damage. This is the 3rd time I've had this happen to someone in my group (although it was the first time I've been the "victim") and I think I'll just have to accept that it's bad luck. I'm not into skis leashes, and I don't want to lock my skis onto my feet, but if anyone has an idea to improve the performance of ski brakes, let me know!

Anyway, a superb day despite this incident, and a highly recommended early season tour. Best of all, we scoped out LOADS of good stuff in the Aravis and even took a bit of a detour on the way home in order to scout something out...Standby!