Tournier Spur into Col du Plan

This was a fantastic run that I did a while back with Oli Willett. The photos speak for themselves and this photo diary wouldn’t be complete without it.

Barbey Variation

After a wicked day skiing powder in the Rocco and Rond we rushed home to get bivi gear and food together, then raced up the valley to GM to catch the last bin up on their last opening day. All the lines that were in condition in the Argentiere basin had been skied several times by the team so Luca, Sylvain and myself decided to go to the Aiguille d’Argentiere to ski a variation of the classic Barbey.

In the pre-dawn we skied down from our bivi and started to skin up the Argentiere glacier. Luca wanted to take a ‘short cut’ up a direct line on the morraine rather than skin round the usual way where there was already a skin track. It didnt appeal to me so I went my own way. My stomach was giving me jib and struggling to get a tour rhythm I had frequent stops to take photos as the sun hit the North Wall of the Argentiere basin.

Arriving in the Milieu I could see a pair way up ahead and realised I had been faffing a bit too much. At the rimaye I caught up with the others only to find it was a guide and client wearing a Luca look-a-like kit. With them no where to be see and no phone reception I assumed they had kit problems and turned back. With only half an hour to the summit I was at least going to go that far. On the summit ridge at 9 am a cold wind was blowing from the SW so I couldnt wait around long. Sure the boys had bailed out, I wasnt psyched to play with the cornice on our intended route and decided to go down the Barbey. Once onto the East Face it was much more pleasant being sheltered from the wind and I shed a couple of layers. I felt sorry for the teams skiing the Milieu which looked destined to remain bullet hard all day in the wind. Traversing right I joined our intended line and was able to put in some big GS turns in the untracked pow. Lower down this line hits a big cliff so I cut back right into the Barbey where conditions were disgusting – it had been skied late on a previous day and the slope trashed as the wet snow was set running. An hour later I was over Col du Chardonnet and back at the Lognan end of season party by lunchtime.

I am the little dot near the top of the headwall. Luca’s short cut cost them one hour!

Midi May Mania

Monday saw the usual gathering of steep skiers at the Midi hungry for those oh so ephemeral routes that come into condition for just a few hours of perhaps one morning a year before the sun strips the snow off them. There is the usual stress with the potential for everyone to pile into the same place. A French team go into the Mallory which looked good but only 2 small snowfalls have covered the glacial ice on the upper slopes. Col du Plan’s ice is also showing so Luca Pandolfi, Sylvain Reynaud and myself head to the Rocco. This is the Rond entry to the Cosmiques, often rocky but good right now and a variation that I hadn’t done.

Luca scoping the entry

Looking down the Rocco into the Cosmiques

The big Italian completes the stability test!

Me waiting on the arrete

Me following the trough left by 2 160 snowboards on my 191 skis. The guy above dropped his pole which hit me in the face – thanks!

You can see the sluff from the guy skiing above coming over the rocks.  We really started to like these guys!!!

Luca approaching the step.

Looking back up at me. Think I will rap now there is no snow and I have newish skis!

Start of lap 2 skiing down the North Face side of the arrete. The speed flier standing next to Luca sadly paid the ultimate price on his last run. When we came round the traverse his body was being recovered by the PGHM in the avalanche cone. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.