Touring Time in the Aiguille Rouge

It was pretty exciting waking up yesterday to a fresh coating of 40 cm of powder when snow has been so scarce this season. But that feeling was quickly replaced by anxiety knowing the lifts would open late and by that time everyone will be out of bed and queuing. We took the magic tunnel through to Italy, drank coffee and skied a quick 4 laps of the Entreve lowers which included a sensational spine feature where the sluff ran fast in the gullies bounding either side. Then it was back to Chamonix for opening time and freeride on amongst the pillows, rocks, roots and tree stumps of Plan de l’Aiguille. Too fast and too hectic to take photos. I was bushed by the end of the day and retired to my nest by 9 o’clock.

Today the plan was to go back for more but the lift company surprised everyone with late opening even though it hadn’t snowed. They must have worked too hard yesterday and had a compensatory sleep in today.  Anyway I felt a bit jaded today after a lot of freeride yesterday so we made a plan to go touring and give the back and quads a rest.

Today it was Dave’s turn to have a few trials and tribulations. First the basket on his pole broke, which means you soon find out how much your balance relies on poles when touring. Then after a lot of effort smashing in a waist deep bootpack to the start of the ski, his binding lock lever ripped off. Dave quickly made do with a ski strap wrapped round the low tech pins and I handed him the camera. He sensibly side slipped the first no fall section above cliffs, with a lot of worry whether his ski would stay on, but salvaged the bottom 2/3 of the ski down once we rapped the cliff. Shortly after we were savouring a pint in Buet.

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Belvedere East Ramp

Plan A was to got the Verte. The day before I went up the Midi on a recce and was greeted by bitter cold due to northerly air flow.  This was hardening the snow and would also mean alot of time trying to keep the extremities warm. Time for Plan B; this also started from Grand Montets but in the morning the wind was too strong for the lift to open so now it was time for Plan C; the Belvedere East ramp. We found very variable snow on the way there with thick wind crust dominating but once in the wind shadow of the Belvedere there was a lush amount of powder. The bowl above the ramp was out of the shelter and heavily wind effected so we skied from there.

Thanks Sylvain for the photos.

Belvedere east ramp Ross Hewitt-22

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Bel Oiseau South East Couloir

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