Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Aravis slush

Last weekend I met up for a days exploring in the Aravis with regular partner in crime Oli Willett.
With warm weather & a mixed forecast I couldn't quite face the drive over to Chamonix for an 8 a.m. start so we decided to explore some more of the Aravis, a convenient halfway point for both of us..

Mission for the day was the Couloir Notre Dame on the South Face of the Grand Balmaz a short but steep 5.2-rated couloir above the small village of La Giettaz.
The approach to this is remarkably easy, a convenient layby sits just across the road from the path you skin up...15 minutes along this and you are at the bottom of the slope below the couloir, only 1200m of up left to do, but at least its all in sight!

Encouraging signs on the path:

As expected with the temperatures the lower slopes were very soft, but as we gained height the snow gradually became more & more weight-bearing, giving us hope for the couloir. Oli high above La Giettaz:

Unfortunately it wasn't to be, as the snow in the couloir turned out to be bottomless mush, not ideal at the best of times, let alone in a 50ยบ couloir, so it was time to beat a retreat for a fine coffee at Chez Lulu...
The Couloir Notre Dame dissappearing into the mist:

Oli sets off for some water-skiing:

And finally an easy slide back to the car:

I have not really looked very closely at this side of the Aravis range, but given the ease of access (1 hour from home + short horizontal distances to the main skiable couloirs) I will definitely be back as there are a good few things to be skied here...

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