Posts Tagged ‘Chamonix’

The North face of the Aiguille du Plan and Contamine couloir. © Brendan O'Sullivan

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. (more…)

The Y couloir, can you spot us in the photo? Cedric Bernardini

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. (more…)

After skiing the Sentinel Rouge couloir back at the start of July I knew it would be my last ski of the season, I was ready for a mental break after a big winter and I didn’t feel like writing about it just then. Now with the winter fast approaching, my mind has turned to skiing once more and we made our first powder turns of the season on Friday.


© Ben Briggs

The Story starts when myself and Luca Pandolfi drove through to Italy to check out the Peuterey Arete. We got there only to find out our passes were no longer valid in the summer on the Helbronner lift, however we could see from the town with binoculars that the Arete was definatley out. It was also pretty clear that there was still a lot of snow on the Brenva face of Mont Blanc so we drove back through the tunnel and went up the Aiguille du midi to have a look. From our vantage point we could only see the top half of the Sentinel rouge couloir but it looked great, better then I had ever seen in many years of watching it. Although its exposed to serac fall its an extremely beautiful an tempting ski line. (more…)

About 3 weeks ago now i met Luca Pandolfi and Cedric Bernardini at the Aiguille du Midi lift with the aim of skiing the Mallory. There had been a lot of snow over the weekend and the face was looking good. All 16 people that went up to ski that day ended up skiing Mallory, the young Chamoniard’s beat us out of the tunnel and dropped in first. We went in straight after and skied down to the demi lune with them, where we waited so we wouldn’t sluff them out on the first crux. Just as we set off again the Black crows team appeared behind us, they were closely followed by Seth Morrison and the Ordinary skier team.

The decent was full on, powder in places, wind slab in others and icy rain crust on the steep cruxes where the fresh snow had fallen off. We had to use the rope in two other places than the mandatory rappel but were expecting this as the route is not as well filled in as it has been in previous years. Cedric’s and Luca’s photos are below.


At the top, under the cables.

Cedric at the top.

Me skiing at the top.

Luca under the cable car.

Luca and me making our way to the demi lune.

Luca about to drop in to the hanging snow field and me sorting out the rope after the first crux.

Luca made a few big turns here on the hanging snow field before a slab broke away and swept him down, luckily he stopped before the cliffs!

Me on the hanging snow field, Luca still taking photos after his scare!

Cedric finding great snow in the same place.

Me on the mandatory rappel.

Me enjoying the skiing safely in the exit couloir.

Me at the bottom of the exit couloir.

Cedric opening it up out the bottom of the exit couloir.

NE face of the Aiguille de l'Amone

Yesterday Luca Pandolfi, Cedric Bernardini and I got the first lift up Grands Montets with the aim of skiing the NE face of the Aiguille de l’Amone. Normally this tour would be done in two days by climbing up the route from La Fouly but by accessing it from the Argentiere basin we managed to do it in a day. We headed all the way to the back of the Argentiere basin and climbed up the south couloir of the Col de l’Amone. Once at the col you have to traverse a fun ridge to get to the top of the NE face, it is easy but exposed so as we had not been there before we got the rope out. The snow was hard at the top of the descent but soon the gradient eased and we got some great powder turns and finally some spring snow lower down.  Thanks to Cedric for his great photos i have used of Luca (snow-board) and me (skis) and to Tom for picking us up!

Skinning up the Argentiere Basin

Climbing the south couloir of the Col de l'Amone

Traversing the ridge from the col to the summit

Hard snow at the top


Luca near the top

Getting into the powder in the middle of the top face.

In the best snow.

The start of the second face.

At the bottom.

Walking down through the woods.

I have not blogged since breaking my computer last summer, but i have done some fun things in that time. The hight lights were great climbing in the autumn on the Ginat and Modica-Noury and some recent ski touring. The start to my winter did not go well as i got frost bite in my toes climbing the Frendo-Ravanel. There has not been mush snow this year but i have had some good skiing in the Contamine couloir, the NE couloir of the Breche du Tacul, the Milieu glacier and the NE face of the Aiguille de l’Amoine.

The Ginat on the N face of Les Droites
The Contamine couloir in yellow and the Spencer in red.
Milieu Glacier
NE couloir of the breche du Tacul
Me at the top of the NE couloir of the Breche du Tacul.
Me traversing into the NE couloir of the Breche du Tacul.

I went up the midi on Saturday to have a look if anything looked good to ski and saw the Contamine- Mazeaude Route looked in good condition so yesterday Brendan and i went up to ski it. We had wanted to ski the North face of the Blanche de Peuterey as we had been told it was very snowy and we had failed in an attempt on it a few weeks ago due to a broken ski boot, however due to work we did not have the time. This turned out to be a great ski and a cool climb too as we exited the route on the climbers line through the rocks and not the way we skied down. The Pictures from the decent are below.