Wednesday 11 April 2012

Lots and lots of skiing

Having somewhat pessimistically said in my last blog post that we were heading into a week of terrible weather, I’ve since had some superb days out and there is even more snow to come. Always look on the bright side of life!

Over the weekend I had a couple of laps down the Vallee Blanche, and then a superb day of skiing fresh tracks all over Grand Montets on Easter Sunday.

Matt slightly over celebrated Easter, and this was the pathetic sight that greeted Peter and I on Sunday morning.

Caroline showing Matt what he missed at GM!

On Monday Matt and I decided that all this lift served skiing was a bit easy and so we headed into the Aiguilles Rouges for a tour, but with no definite plan. The first thing that struck us was just how much fresh snow there was, and also just how much this new snow was sloughing off rocks and generally feeling a bit dodgy.

After much umming and ahhing we ended up on top of the Aiguilles Crochues N summit, and had a fantastic ski back into the Flegere lift system via Lac Blanc having skied some powder and a lot of excellent spring snow. We were both pretty shocked at how unstable the snowpack felt though, so although the avalanche risk is officially only category 2 below 3000m, I’m being pretty cautious right now. Anyway, another good day, topped off with a couple of hours of blasting around nice, slushy pistes.

Crowds on the way up to the Col Crochues

Matt bootpacking up towards the Crochues N summit

On the way down, with the Dru appearing behind.

Me just above Lac Blanc

Yesterday (Tuesday) we went for a look at the N face of the Belvedere, confident that it would have good snow but be low enough that it wouldn’t have been affected by the winds we had earlier in the week. There was an incredible amount of people putting skins on below Lac Blanc, but luckily they all disappeared up towards the Col de Beaugent, so we had the track up to the Col du Belvedere almost to ourselves. The skin up is easy enough, and Matt and I were soon bootpacking up towards the Belvedere’s summit, leaving everyone else to ab off the Col to the good skiing below.

Looking up at the Belvedere from the col.

Matt bootpacking the final section

Having reached the top of the couloir we hoped to ski, we decided against going to the very top of the peak as the slope we would have climbed felt pretty iffy when we started up it, and we even shifted a little slab even in the 5 metres we climbed up.


Having skipped the summit we dropped into the couloir and unfortunately found really heavy crust, and much steeper terrain than we’d hoped for. I’d guess at about 50 degrees, but with such weird, crusty snow it felt pretty out there, and we were both relieved to get to the lower, less steep section unscathed. The lower section was OK, but still had some crust in places – so not a classic descent as a whole!

Matt definitely NOT gripped, and only using his ice axe to look good in photos.

Matt on the lower section

Me on the final slope before the glacier.

Unfortunately when we joined the Glacier du Belvedere we saw a chopper coming in, and as it turned out it picked up a woman we’d been chatting to earlier in the day. We later found out that she’d torn her cruciate ligament. If you’re reading this - get well soon Lucy!

The Berrard Valley had some really good snow in it (some things never change) so having met up with some mates who had gone over the Col du Belvedere we had a great ski down on some really fun spring snow, and only had to walk about 5 minutes at the end of the track back to Le Buet.

Sally shredding the Berrard Valley.

Finally, we hit Grand Montets again this morning and once again got acres of untracked powder after a big snowfall last night.

Will (who’s now reached the dizzy heights of being profiled on the about page of this blog) ripping up the Grand Montets.

More snow is coming now, so when the sun finally does appear we are in for yet another spell of good touring, and in the meantime there should be plenty of lift accessed powder going. Winter 2012 just keeps on giving!