Mont Blanc du Tacul South face

Posted: May 8, 2014 in Ski
Tags: , , ,
Mont Blanc du Tacul South face.

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.

So Brendan O’Sullivan, Tom Coney and I made a trip to check it out and actually got to ski some nice snow in the access couloir to the Fourche hut that day too. It looked filled in so we headed up a few days later, Unfortunately Tom C couldn’t make it but Tom Grant joined us instead.

The plan was to set off from the first lift up the Midi and climb the North face to access the route. I managed to miss the first couple of lifts, tired and a little hung over, but In the end it didn’t matter as we had to wait at the top for the snow to soften anyway.

The climb went smoothly after a small but amusing incident low down when we we crossing an open crevasse. There was a small but vertical step to overcome and we decided it would be easiest without bags on. Tom went first and as I handed him his bag I caught the skin clip of his ski on my jacket. Before I realized he was pulling it up an ripped the arm of my light jacket clean off!

After I skied a few meters at the top with the snow still frozen icy hard, we decided to wait a while for the sun to soften it. I climbed back up and we sat at the top sun bathing with the most incredible view.

The start of the descent, is relatively mellow down a snow field but after a short while a traverse rightward takes you to the top of a narrow very steep couloir. It’s a real adventure skiing a route like this from the top, it’s a complicated face and all we had to go on was the photo we had taken a few days before.

A short way down this couloir we came to a rocky step which I and then Brendan managed to pass with a few meters down dry skiing. After seeing it was pretty desperate and with less snow after we had been through Tom decided to set up a short rappel.

The couloir mellowed a little and we encountered another easier dry skiing section. After this we enjoyed some good skiing in spring snow as it open into another snow field.

Another small traverse right took us to the mandatory rappel. I slung a huge block with some tat and set off to join the exit couloir about 40m below. The others had seen there was another step in the couloir below which we wold have to rappel and told me to go down and set up another anchor while they came down.

First there was a 5m section of ice but I found that I could just edge it on the side where it had softened in the sun. So instead of setting up another anchor I carried on down until and made a few turns before reaching another rocky step. I jumped over this and carried on down the exit couloir.

This stayed steep all the way to the end but with good snow the skiing was fantastic. This was defiantly the route of the year for me and probably one of the most technical lines I have skied.

Relaxing at the top waiting for the snow to soften.

Relaxing at the top © Ben Briggs

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Tom at the top © Ben Briggs

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Tom in the couloir. © Ben Briggs

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Tom in the couloir. © Ben Briggs

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Ben in the couloir. © Tom Grant

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Ben. © Tom Grant

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Tom. © BenBriggs

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Tom just above the mandatory rappel. © Ben Briggs

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Brendan at the start of the steep couloir. © Tom Grant

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Brendan on the top snow field. © Ben Briggs

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Ben entering the steep couloir. © Brendan O’Sullivan

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Ben coming to section of thin snow cover. © Brendan O’Sullivam

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Tom passing some rocks. © Ben Briggs

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Ben on rappel. © Tom Grant

 

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Tom and Brendan in the exit couloir after the small steps. © ben Briggs

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Ben traversing to the rappel point. © Tom Grant

 

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Comments
  1. another crazy and beautiful line Ben. keep it up (all year long as you do!). photos are great!

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