Posted: January 14, 2015 in Ski
Tags: Aiguille du Chardonnet, Ben Briggs, Ben Tibbits, Brendan O'Sullivan, Cosmiques, Exped, Gervasutti, Glacier Rond, Jesper Pettersson, Julbo, LaSportiva, Mountain Equipment, North Face, Petzl, tom grant, Tour Ronde, Whitedotskis
So I think pretty much everyone knows the Alps have had a pretty terrible season for snow so far….. But we have still managed to get out for some fun days and good skiing, it’s just been harder to find. Back at the very beginning of December I headed up the tour Ronde first to ski the Gervasutti with Tom Grant and Ben Tibbits, then to ski the North face with Brendan O’Sullivan. Even though we had no snow in the valley, a rainy summer and autumn meant there was a lot of snow up high and we found some good conditions.
Unfortunately this wasn’t to last long as high winds stripped all but the most protected snow. This made things difficult for Ben Tibbits and I who had a photo shoot for Mountain Equipment’s fantastic new ski products to shoot. We set out for two days in the Argentiere Basin and struggled on the first day but luckily managed to find a hidden stash of snow in the Aiguille du Chardonnets South East couloir on the second.
More recently i have had a couple of good runs from the Aiguille du Midi with Jesper Petersson and Brendan O’Sullivan, however the glaciers have been more complicated than usual du to the lack of snow. There has been a lack of good lift served free riding with just a handful of good days at Grands Montets and the Helbronner but hopefully things will pick up now before the steep season begins.
On the way up the Tour Ronde Normal route. © Ben Tibbits
Skiing the Gervasutti. © Ben Tibbits
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Our tracks on the Mont Maudit North face. © Ben Briggs
Our tracks on the Mont Blanc du Tacul North face. © Ben Briggs
At the start of the summer I received some prototype skis from Whitedot and was keen to head up and test them, so after some storms Brendan and I headed up high in search of some good snow.
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The North face of the Aiguille du Plan and Contamine couloir. © Brendan O’Sullivan
At the start of June, just before the current heat wave Brendan O’Sullivan, Mikko Heimonen and I managed to sneak one last powder snow descent. The Aiguille du Plan’s north face is impressive and I always thought it would be a cool place to ski but was put off by the large amounts of rappelling for relatively little skiing.
Things changed when in the spring of 2011 Vivian Bruchez and Jonathan Charlet made the first link up this route with the Contamine Couloir. They skied the North face until the point where the skiing finishes and you would normally make several long rappels. From there they climbed up the West couloir of the Aiguille du Blaitière to reach the top of the Contamine couloir. A descent of this and then the Nantillons glacier takes you all the way back to the Lift. The Idea was ingenious, take two great descents and link them together to eliminate most of the rappels.
Our plan was to make the first repetition of this route and so after catching the first lift in the morning we set of on the classic alpine route, the Midi Plan traverse. Read the rest of this entry »
The upper part of the Y couloir, we skied the lookers left hand branch. Can you spot us in the photo? © Cedric Bernardini
Last year I made several failed attempts on the Y couloir due to weather or snow conditions so as soon as it was filled with snow I was keen to go. It has always been a dream of mine to ski off all four sides of the aiguille Verte, and this was the third part of the puzzle. Read the rest of this entry »
Couloir Pelas Verney. © skitour.fr
One morning I got a phone call from Luca asking me if I fancied a trip to the Ecrin’s. At first I wasn’t sure, I had work to do and we didn’t know what conditions were like, but as always Luca can be persuasive and after looking at the beautiful photo he sent me, I dropped everything and agreed to leave the same evening. We were going to meet some Italian friends Roberto and Sacha over there and were joined last minute by Tom Grant. Read the rest of this entry »
Aiguille du Chardonnet East couloir. © Luca Pandolfi
After our adventure on Mont Blanc du Tacul I was psyched for more big lines but unfortunately conditions were not favorable. Being stuck in the valley was becoming increasingly frustrating, so I headed up with Brendan O’Sullivan and Tom Coney for the smaller but very aesthetic East couloir of the Aiguille du Chardonnet. Read the rest of this entry »
Mont Blanc du Tacul South face. © Tom Coney
I had first thought of skiing this route after seeing it from the Fourche several years ago. However it’s not in any of the ski guide books and there is very little information online about it, so I forgot about it for a while. My memory was jogged after we skied the SW couloir from the col du diable as it’s in the same area and wanting to explore new places I thought it would be worth a look. Read the rest of this entry »