Saturday, 15 March 2014

Chamonix Freeride week + conditions report

Last week I was in Chamonix working alongside IFMGA Mountain Guide Paul Farmer on the Chamonix Freeride week run by Jagged Globe and

The week combines a mixture of guiding and coaching with the aim was of exploring as much of the Chamonix back-country as possible.
With no snow for a just over a week and warm temperatures forecast we were never likely to be skiing knee deep powder everywhere, but we still managed to sniff out some good soft snow, 'old' powder, chalky cold snow and some nice spring snow too (with a bit of sastrugi along the way!).

Conditions report follows below, but first a few photos...

Heading for the far side of Col D'Arp, Courmayeur:

Business as usual (and windy as usual on the AIguille du Midi ridge:

Paul leading the team towards the Glacier d'Envers du Plan:

Mt Blanc du Tacul looking moody, with a lenticular over Mt Blanc behind:

'Interesting' conditions at the top of Grand Mur, Grands Montets:

Then great smooth chalky snow:

A happy team above the Arp-Dolonne couloirs, Courmayeur, Mt Blanc behind:

For once someone else took some photos! Yours truly enjoying soft snow in the Arp-Dolonne couloirs:

Photo: ©Alan Scowcroft

And again:

Photo: ©Alan Scowcroft

Nice views from the top of the Youla cable car:

Descending from Pointe du Van to Trient, Amanda and Alex finding soft snow:

Looking back up:

Alex cruising down for a well-earned drink in Trient:

Yours truly again enjoying the North couloir of the Arolette:

Photo: ©Alan Scowcroft

Chamonix conditions:

Le Tour:
Chalky snow in the Posettes main couloir, but full depth slides visible in the side couloirs later in the week - caution!
Back bowls still have some chalky snow to be skied - the Arolette couloirs are in good condition, with some patches of old powder still below them before you hit the sun. Lower down reasonable spring snow can be found with the right timing. The Tournays descent from Pointe du Van to Trient had powder still on the right bank, with transformed spring snow L bank. Lower down some creep cracks are opening as you pull right to avoid the narrows.

Grands Montets:
Bumps, bumps and more bumps everywhere apart from off the top bin.
Lots of wind-affected snow up high on the glacier runs, but some nice areas of smooth wind-buffed chalky snow to be had skier's right of Point de Vue and on Grand Mur. Exit couloirs to the Glacier d'Argentiere are in good condition. Bottom of Pas de Chevre looks very scabby and had lots (& lots) of falling rocks when we went past at the bottom of the VB at approx 2pm...


Good chalky snow in the Vesses couloirs (L & R), some nice spring snow now off the Col D'Arp sticking hard left (and out of the tracks). The Arp-Dolonne couloirs still had some surprisingly nice soft snow (albeit quite well tracked) on Thursday.

Aiguille du Midi:

Strong winds at altitude through the middle of the week have left mostly firm snow on the French side of the Vallee Blanche. The Requin exit couloirs are starting to feel the heat a bit with lots of rubble coming out of the first 2. Best bet is to head hard skiers left...

Congratulations to Ross, Dave and Miko for nailing a Couturier to Whymer link-up on the Aiguille Verte in tricky conditions on Wednesday! Read more here...

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