Its always a pleasure to travel under the North Wall of the Argentiere Glacier and study the big ski lines and dream about the few hours they might be in condition in April or May. We hoped to ski some of the mid altitude couloirs in the hope they were more sheltered from the wind but in the first I wasn’t able to ski cut the new snow – it would slide a couple of metres then stop, not exactly inspiring confidence. After hanging out at the col and enjoying the surroundings we opted for some meadow skipping back home.
Michelle has been wanting to go to Col de Cristaux for a while now so I’d been saving it up for a nice sunny spring day when things would soften up. We were joined by fellow Aberdonian climber-skiers Sandy Simpson and Andy Inglis a very social lap on this Chamonix Classic from the sunny right hand finish.
I was surprised to see a large team start up the face behind us when were we 3/4 of the way up. As things were softening up fast and I started to ski down towards them, they appeared quite distressed by the volume of sluff that the skiers on the (other) direct finish were sending down. Surely if you didn’t manage to get out of bed early enough to start with the others, you would question the wisdom of questing up a route knowing people will be skiing down and dislodging anything from 1 to 1000 Te of snow? Would you go onto a big ice route behind people without expecting to get a lot of ice in the face? A few years ago another team followed us up the ice route Omega on the Petit Jorasses. By the end both of them were bloodied and bruised from direct hits from falling ice. It certainly spoiled my day knowing that anything we dislodged was going to harm them to some degree.