Sunday, 27 April 2008

Chamonix - Col des Courtes

On Thursday, with the promise of sensational conditions from Ross, who had skied the Chevalier on Wednesday in knee deep powder, I made an early start and headed over to Chamonix for first lifts at the Grands Montets where I met up with Ross and Neil.

We dropped down onto the Argentiere Glacier and started the long skin up towards the Col des Courtes, which sits right up the end of the Glacier. As we skinned (and sweated) it quickly became clear that it was way warmer than forecast, which didn't bode well for our intended line, with lots of snow just waiting to fall off as temperatures climbed.

Looking up at the Col des Courtes:

The rock band and ice in the middle of the face weren't looking very appealing, and our decision was sealed quite rapidly when several large sloughs came down within 30 seconds of our arriving under the bergschrund.

Neil skinning up under the bergschrund, with slough visible coming down up and right:

Not wishing to tempt fate we slid off back down the valley and readjusted plans for the coming days...

Argentiere basin looking good as a whole: Col des Cristaux has lots of snow, NNE of Courtes plastered in snow (watched 2 early birds putting in the first tracks on the way back...powder all the way). The easier classics on the other side all had lots of snow (and traffic)...Milieu Glacier, Tour Noir, Chardonnet, Col du Passon. Y Couloir on Aig D'Argentiere also looks fairly full (though thin near the top). Col des Droites and Col de L'Aiguille Verte both have fairly large ice patches, Couturier on the Verte is not far off being snow all the way, just one large ice patch lower down...

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