Friday, 27 April 2007

Greenland here I come...!

Thats the last of the Spring reports for now folks, tomorrow I'm off to Greenland for some arctic skiing... here's hoping the polar bears aren't too hungry. Check back late May for pics & reports from the Watkins Mountains expedition.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Mont de Peclet N Face

Despite the summer temperatures there is still some good skiing to be had up high. Today we went over to Val Thorens with the intention of skiing the W Face of the Aiguille de Peclet, but having sat in the cloud below the boot up to the summit for half an hour did an about turn and went for plan B, the North face of the Mont de Peclet. 20 mins skinning takes you to this minor summit, which is a great view point for the surrounding basins, which are full of good skiing lines. The north face itself gave some soft snow from Sundays flurries, with a bit of dodging between rock bands, kind of an extra-mini version of the north face of bellecote.

Ginny on the summit:

Ginny dropping in:

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Les Courtes - Headcam footage

Headcam footage from last weekends jaunt up the Courtes NE Face is now online here.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Dome de Polset West Face

Back to Val Thorens again today on a solo mission. A quick blast up to the Col de Gebroulaz, then round to the Aiguille de Polset for a short scramble on a mixture of snow and rock to this great little summit. From the top I spotted the slope we were trying to get to yesterday, so dropped down the far side towards the Dome de Polset. From the ridge between these two summits a great little slope drops down onto the Glacier de Polset weaving a line between some rocks.

An hours wait for the sun to soften the snow enough and then it was off down 45º of great spring snow. A traverse and short scramble over a rocky ridge brings you back out onto the Chaviere Glacier and into Val T. Definitely one to do again.

View from the Col Pierre Lory looking at (from right) Dome de Polset, Aiguille de Polset, Mont Gebroulaz, Col de Gebroulaz, then round to the Aiguille de Peclet. The line skied appears to be right under the summit of the Dome from this angle:

Friday, 20 April 2007


Out with Ginny again today with a view to skiing a line off the back of the Dome de Polset. A short skin and climb up to the Col de Gebroulaz from the Col chair in Val Thorens saw us traversing round the Aiguille de Polset for the short climb up to the Dome. On arrival the intended line appeared to be more rock than snow, so we opted for the classic Gebroulaz/Borgne glacier combination. The far right branch of the Gebroulaz gave firm but soft snow, followed by a hot flog up to the Col de Borgne. The North side of this gave great spring snow all the way down the Glacier de Borgne to join the Mottaret pistes again for a well-earned lunch...

Ginny traversing into the bottom of the Borgne climb, Gebroulaz glacier behind:

Looking back up the Glacier de Borgne:

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Roc des St Peres, Grand Couloir

Over to Val Thorens today with Benoit to try and find some snow that is surviving the current summer temperatures (20º + in Bozel today). A quick skin and then boot up to the Roc des Saint Peres saw us peering in the top of the Grand Couloir trying to judge if the snow had softened enough to make it viable. This was my last line left to ski from this peak, having previously skied the Petit Face Nord (200m @ 50º) and the Triangle (750m @ 45º, alpine feel, complex route-finding).

The Grand Couloir is hard to miss as you sit on the Moraine chair in Val Thorens, and is very reasonable to ski, with a short steepish section (45º) at the top followed by steady 40º for 500m, then out onto the open slopes below. West-facing the couloir doesn't get the sun til late morning so there's no rush to get there if the snow is in Spring conditions (access slope is S facing though). We dropped in at 12.30, and found the snow still quite firm on the left bank, but nicely soft on the right bank, where it had been catching the sun for a bit longer. A bit of filming on the way down (video link to follow), a few sections of chattering over marbles, but mostly good spring snow right the way down...perfect!

The Grand Couloir is the obvious main diagonal line in this picture:

Benoit on the Roc des Saint Peres, with the Ecrins in the background:

Looking into the W face of the Aiguille de Peclet. There are 2 people just above the shaded section, which gives the face some perspective...

Benoit 150m down the couloir:

Benoit in action:

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

More Cham pics

See post below for details.

Midi...the path is in good shape...

S Side of the Aiguille du Midi:

Mont Blanc du Tacul:

Supercouloir (there are people there if you look closely!):

Tour Ronde N Face (very bare) and Mont Blanc:

Pics from Chamonix area.

Up the Midi today with slightly sore legs from yesterdays blast up the Courtes, and a slightly sore head from last nights beer. Objective was the W couloir on the Aiguilles Marbrees, but with very little snow obvious from the Col des Flambeaux we opted for a quick few turns down the N Face of the Petit Flambeau which gave a few nice powder turns before it turned crusty (again).

Here are a few photos of the surroundings...

Verte/Droites/Courtes (S sides):

Petit Flambeau N Face:

Gervasutti Couloir (Tacul) incl monster bergshrund:

Aig du Midi (no chance of skiing the Mallory at the moment...):

Midi: View from the ridge:

Monday, 16 April 2007

Courtes NE Face

Quick blast over to Chamonix this morning to hook up witih Guy, Oli & Steph to have a look at the NE Face of Les Courtes. This was the first time our Greenland team were all together on the mountain, and is part of our warm-up for the trip in May.
Reports were that the face was in good condition to 100m below the top (as per most of the time...), but once the Bergschrund had been negotiated we found a mixture of wind-affected, crusty, and icy snow with the occasional nice chalky bit inbetween.

Not to be deterred we continued booting up the slope and sometime later were teetering about swapping from crampons to skis. The descent was not particularly pleasurable as every turn brought a different kind of snow, and there was no chance to relax and enjoy the amazing position... Still, a mega-classic ski run, and a great day out...


Oli (nice headband!):

Looking up at the NE face of Les Courtes (only another 900m to go...):

Looking down from approx 3600m:

In the bag:

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Aiguille du Fruit

Quick trip out with Ginny today to the Aiguille du Fruit above Courchevel. This 3051m peak dominates the view from many parts of Courchevel and sports a very obvious large N facing easy-angled couloir (400m at 35-40º). Skiers left of this main couloir a narrower Y-shaped couloir heads up to the ridge giving a good tight line on 40-45º slopes. The weather has been very warm and the snow was a little on the slushy side, but still supportive enough to climb.

Looking up at the Aig. du Fruit, the L hand branch of the Y couloir can be seen snaking up to the ridge.

Ginny on the way up.

Looking down from near the top.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Great Spring conditions in the Alps

Spring has sprung in the Alps with warm days and cold nights transforming the snow. Good reports coming in from Cham with classics like the Couloir Barbey on the Aiguille D'Argentiere, NE face of Les Courtes seeing descents. In the 3 Valleys the conditions are great with some soft snow still to be found on hidden North Faces (Col du Rateau, Aiguille du Fruit). West Face of Aiguille du Peclet and the Gebroulaz Glacier have both been described as in "superb" condition in recent days.

Pictures below from the Col de la Montee du Fond...

Col du Fruit:

Gebroulaz Glacier: