Sunday, 9 May 2010

La Noire - North Face

A quick couple of days over in Chamonix with Guy this weekend, with mixed success (as always). Friday, and despite a reasonable forecast the clouds were hanging on hard to the peaks. Original plans were shelved and eventually we went for a quick look up at the Grands Montets. Wednesday's 50cm snowfall was well transformed, and after one run of heavy powder in poor visibility we went off in search of good coffee.

Saturday dawned clearer, and by 8a.m. we were at the Midi lift waiting for the first bin. Unfortunately the staff had decided to take their time, and the first bin eventually pulled out of the bottom station at 9.30!!
With this late start in mind we opted for a short day on the North Face of La Noire - a 5.2 rated descent with a good combination of easy access (<400m of up) and North-facing slopes (hopefully reasonable snow).

The pleasant surprise was that the previous evenings showers had left knee deep fluff everywhere, so we had fresh tracks down past the Gros Rognon before putting skins on to head for the approach couloir:

The North Face of La Noire is visible middle of shot:

Nice scenery for a walk:

Guy in the approach couloir:

I guess its down here then? Convex slopes with a nice view to the Salle a Manger 800m lower down:

Sadly the snow didn't quite live up to expectations, with a few inches of powder over a thin & variable crust above Wednesday's fresh snow... Not bad to ski and definitely possible to link turns in, but not champagne powder...:

Looking into the exit gully:

Good route-finding needed - turn left too soon and you get stuck above this:

Géant icefall:

Looking back at the face:

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