I was 17 when I first skied in the Portes du Soleil region and I got my first sight of the impressive North Face of the Dents du Midi. The 2 striking couloir lines in the photo below are musts to any aspiring big mountain skier. For whatever reason, I didn’t get round to going there in my first Alpine winter season aged 21, and its taken a full 20 years since my first glimpse to get there.
Couloirs Dent Jaune Left and Doigts on the Right. Photo Taken after Skiing Dent Jaune
And so it was that myself and Michelle went to the refuge Dents du Midi on a good forecast last week. On the approach the weather changed, the cloud dropped and the wind blew. I was glad of the Guides Scheme training while navigating to the hut in a white out.
The hut was cold and we went to bed early to keep warm under the blankets, while listening to the sound of the wind and knowing the forecast was good. Morning came and still the wind blew. Not inspired by the cold we had another couple attempts at getting up before leaving the hut with a curtailed plan given the low cloud, high wind and cold toes.
As we entered the Dent Jaune Couloir the weather deteriorated further and in the cloud I was knocking snow down to get some idea of the slope aspect. The mountain scenery in the couloir can only be described as magnificent, the towers and downward pointing limestone rock strata reminiscent of the North Face of the Eiger, with the exception that we are skiing rather than climbing. To ski in such places with the whole mountain to share between yourself and your partner is what I dream about and the reality of the adventure exceeded what I had imagined it would be like over all those years. So much so that I made a return trip the same week to ski the Doigts Right Hand Couloir.
We went with the plan to ski both the Doigts and Fortress Couloirs, unfortunately the raging wind at the weekend had created a wavy undercut surface covered in rock shards blasted of the couloir walls! (it was very reminiscent of the exit to the White Spider on the Eiger!!) This time I was joined by Ben O’Conner Croft and Dave Searle.
Here are the photos from the second trip. The first trip will be posted next.
Finally a big thanks to Michelle, Dave and Ben for questing off into the unknown with me.