Saturday 29 January 2011

Claire Chazal and M6 Solar

Looking for a steady day, John and I headed up on friday to do the Goulotte Claire Chazal on the Grand Montets ridge. The route is supposed to be about grade 4 and is 400 metres long so sounded like a perfect first day out for a while. The route took a bit of finding but we soon found ourselves shooting up some nice easy ice and snow and towards the crux section higher up.

John heading up the lower section.
The route finding became quite tricky higher up but we eventually found the crux corner, which when plastered with ice would be pretty steady. However, it was essentially dry, save for some small blobs of ice in the crack. Not wanting to give in that easily I headed up and made it up after a bit of a battle. John (who knows about these things) reckonned it was "hard Scottish 6" so don't get on it if you're looking for grade 4!

John following the crux.
The route finishes with 60 metres of ice, which is briefly near vertical but mainly pretty straight forward. The abs down went fine and we were soon back in Cham with a brew in hand. Great day.
Today (saturday) Peter and I went up the Midi hoping to do the Pelissier Gully on the Lachenal. However, Ben and Shaun beat us to it so we decided to get on M6 Solar on the same face.
The ice varied between really good neve and unconsolidated snow, with the latter being more common! After 3 pitches of thrutching and dry tooling we decided lunch in the sun was preferable to carrying on, and so headed back down.

Thrutching conditons on M6 Solar are currently superb.
Once back at the skis we had a good look around and I was blown away by how much looked good. The Gabarrou and Modica both look unbelievably fat and the Supercouloir looks as fat as I have ever seen it. Meanwhile some steep skiing nutters were climbing the Jager couloir and presumably about to head straight back down it.
Having finished gawping and making unrealistic climbing plans we set off down the Vallee Blanche for the first time this year. I had been told to head across to the Italian side and ski the right hand side of the Geant icefall and this proved to be good advice. The snow is ok in the shade, but coverage is poor and there are a lot of crevasses. We found a good line down but it all felt much more serious than usual, and it would not be a great idea to fall given the hardness of the snow and the holes everywhere. Once back at the Salle a Manger we had a great ski down to Montenvers, where the infamous steps awaited! I really think you've reached the peak of physical fitness when you're not buggered after carrying your skis up to the telecabine.

Conditions might not have been vintage but it was still great to ski the VB - I always forget how good it is. In an attempt to sound hardcore some people give it a hard time but don't listen, its an amazing experience no matter how many times you do it.
Just let it snow again before you do it this year!

Supercouloir looking amazing.
Gabarrou Albinoni and the Modica Noury both looking great and with plenty of people on them.