With the Chamonix valley definitely in a spring snow cycle but foehn winds forecast for the first few days we kicked off the week at the Grands Montets skiing smooth chalky hardpack and drilling the team in avalanche rescue techniques:
On Monday and Tuesday we headed over to Courmayeur where there was up to 30cm of powder in places off the Youla as and when the visibility opened up (and it was amazingly quiet as always!):
Of course no trip to Italy is complete without sampling some of the local wares:
On Wednesday we took the whole team for a run off the Punta Hellbronner down the Toula Glacier, finding creamy powder at the top, turning rapidly to spring lower down:
Once again Mark took advantage of the fine food on offer...:
After lunch Andy took Mark and Rian off down the Vallée Noire back to Chamonix, while Chas, David, Pete and I headed over to Courmayeur for a coaching session.
David in action:
On Thursday, with a spring cycle setting up again, we headed for Brevent in the morning, catching the Hotel face in great condition. Andy, Mark & Rian then continued on to ski the Aiguille Pourrie North face into Combe de la Gliere.
Yesterday 'team energetic' headed for the Col du Belvedere and skied good chalky snow down to Le Buet, while the rest of us went back to Les Grands Montets for a mix of chalky cold snow and spring snow, along with a slightly cloudy eclipse...
Chas in action:
Thanks to Chas, Pete, David, Rian and Mark for a great week, and also to Andy.
To summarise conditions as of Friday:
Brevent/Flegere - great spring snow to be skied if you get your timing right, but by 12:30 most off piste is getting too soft
Aiguilles Rouges touring - Andy, Mark and Rian went over the Col du Belvedere on Friday and found good snow on the descent down to Le Buet, with skis on pretty much all the way to the bottom (though this won't last long if it stays warm...)
Grands Montets - chalky snow still on North aspects (skier's left of Lavancher bowl, Grand Mur, under Bochard etc etc), spring snow on the Westerly aspects
Aiguille du Midi - by all accounts all the classic Vallee Blanche itineraries are in good condition
Punta Hellbronner - the Toula Glacier was in good spring condition - timing is everything again... Teams had skied under the cables - cover looks good
Courmayeur - there was still good cold snow off the Youla & Arp on Wednesday, Canale Vesse in good condition though in the right branch the ice bulge is becoming more pronounced and needs a confident approach - the stream crossing is tricky, with a muddy scramble along the other side
Up higher it seems like South-facing slopes are in reasonable condition (Y on Aig. d'Argentiere, S couloir on Chardonnet), while North-facing slopes are definitely still showing the effects of the strong Northerly winds from a week or two back...