Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Grande Ciamarella North face

So, I hadn't skied for a month (Apr 11th to be precise) for a variety of reasons, and having to deposit wife & child at the airport on Saturday scuppered any full weekend plans... time for a day mission to fulfill a promise to a mate.

A short night 'car camping' was followed by an early start -

5:28 am - leave car in L'Ecot (2000m)
5:33 am - leave car in L'Ecot again, having returned to pick up the ice axe I had forgotten...
6:35 am - over the hump at 2570m and down to the Plan des Evettes - groups heading off in all directions from the hut
8:00 am - Col Tonini (3200m) - First sight of 'La Face du Jour'

The north face of the Grande Ciamarella has been on the hit list for a long time, but is exceedingly rarely in condition. I had been watching the progress of the face this spring and it had been looking better and better...

Early start French team from the hut (cheats :-)) dropping onto the upper face. A few mm of soft over a hard base, hmmm.

The face proper is about 450m of steepness - not very big in alpine terms but it hovers consistently around 50º the whole time - definitely feels steeper than say the NNE of the Courtes...

French skier in here if you look closely - view downwards from approx half-height:

10:30 am - Grande Ciamarella summit (3670m) - 8km and 1750m vertical in the bag (got to count the extra for the drop into the Plan des Evettes). Tired legs due to a month of inactivity!

I'm not sure how much of this fella is normally showing, but if its a full statue then there is a fair bit of snow on the summit!!

Time for action - I have since seen a report from the Saturday of soft snow over a firm base - alot can change in 24 hours... there was the merest dusting (in places) over some really quite hard snow - spicy times!

Mid slope:

And looking back at the face from Col Tonini - another French team on the top section - busy busy on here today!:

12:15 pm - back at the car & time for a brew - mission accomplished.

Apologies for lack of action photos... solo mission drawbacks!

This descent was for Will who should have been here too, RIP mate.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Will Eaton (1974-2013)

Well, its a sad time. My good friend and partner on some classic adventures was killed in an avalanche while ski touring with some friends on the Grande Casse on Thursday.

Will was one of life's good guys - he had the amazing ability to turn a random stranger into a lifelong friend in the space of 5 minutes. He also had a superhuman ability to seemingly survive on no more than 5 hours sleep a night - linking up full, early-start steep skiing days with evenings of work followed by a social into the early hours, only to repeat it all the next day!

We had recently spent 5 amazing days skiing in Lofoten, and the last time I saw him was classic Will - we were so busy chatting over coffee in Oslo airport that he had to run full speed to catch his flight before they shut the gate...

One of our first adventures.. Sache-Pourri traverse after a very late night with Laurent the gardien in the Mt Pourri refuge. The picture sums up Will - always smiling no matter what...

Will was always keen for an adventure - no matter how far-fetched the idea was:

Cave-skiing from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Will hadn't bought a lift ticket for ages, and his fitness was kept topped up by regular (daily?) outings in his 'backyard' in Les Avals - its fair to say he knew this place better than anyone - he still had a couple of lines to show me... I guess I will just have to find 'Rumdoodle' and the others for myself now...

In 2011 he found a new line on the Rateau - and took me back the next time to repeat 'Keyhole couloir':

Will's legendary fitness wasn't just confined to skis - every time I went cycling with him was the same... I would be blowing hard on the way up some big col, and Will would be cruising along in his baggy shorts chatting away quite happily, seemingly putting in no effort other than to chase down the odd serious lycra-merchant who dared overtake us :-)

See you next time mate... hope the skies are blue and the powder is soft and deep wherever you are...

Courchevel Powder from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

3 Valleys Esoterica from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

48 hours in the Haute Maurienne from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Dent Parrachée - East Face from Simon Christy on Vimeo.