Couloir Pelas Verney

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Ski
Tags: , , , , , ,
Couloir Pelas Verney. ©

Couloir Pelas Verney. ©

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.

We chose to drive through Italy, so this meant there were many stops for pizza, coffee and ice cream. I was just pleased to be out of the car for a while, where Luca had been sporadically trying to kill us with his driving. Italian roads are a much more dangerous prospect than any steep ski descent I have done, however we did get to see a stunning sunset over the mountains and it was nice to be out of the steep sided Chamonix valley.

The road up to Ailefoide was still closed so after a night spent on the floor in the car park we set off on the long walk up to the base of the mountain. Once arriving at the couloir we soon realised that although it was well filled in, the skiing conditions were far from optimal and around a third of the way up Luca decided to call it a day and head down. There would be no powder turns but knowing it was skiable and having come all that way the rest of us carried on to the top.

The top of the couloir gets very narrow and a bit mixed so the others stopped while i carried on until the breche for a look around. After a little down climbing I started skiing a short way above where the others were waiting but the locking mechanism on one of my binding toe pieces had broken an after only a few turns it released and the ski shot off.

The snow was extremely hard but by an amazing stroke of luck the ski instantly flipped over, dug in and stopped just a few meters below me. The snow was not good in the couloir and I had to ski in a very reserved way, still on two more occasions I nearly lost the ski. It didn’t look much better for the others who were also making scratchy jump turns until near the bottom where we were rewarded with some OK snow and then nice corn on the exit cone.

Although the skiing hadn’t been great the trip was, with fun people and lots of banter.It was well worth the trip out of Chamonix, but I am left with a feeling of wanting to go back and dreams of making huge turns in deep powder, the way the stunning  couloir deserves to be skied.



Our bivi spot in the car park. © Ben Briggs



Roberto and Tom climbing the couloir. © Ben Briggs


Climbing the top of the couloir. © Ben Briggs


Ben skiing the top of the couloir. © Tom Grant


Roberto where the couloir widens. © Ben Briggs


Ben in the middle section of the couloir. © Tom Grant


Tom lower down in some slightly better snow. © Ben Briggs


Sacha near the bottom, finally some nice turns. © Ben Briggs





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