Mont Oreb North Face

Its been a while since I have skied on this face and last time I went we decided to climb it first and got a bit lost 2/3 of the way up trying to find the ‘exposed traverse’ to the summit ridge. This time Tom and myself wanted to ski top down onsite to avoid wading up chest deep pow. The cornice is similar to the one on Mt Buet and its tough to see into the face from above but eventually we committed to a traverse going in on the rope to test the snow stability.  The anchors are sparse a the top and the best I could manage was a no. 1 camelot and 2 ski anchors. Once Tom had found the snow was perfect we packed the ropes and got on with skiing this fantastic face.

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Y Couloir

The traverse of the Aiguille d’Argentiere is one of my favourite trips. Its a big mountain with lots of different lines to ski so there is always a plan B,C and D and when the track is in on the Milieu its pretty quick to get to on skins with a shortish bootpack up the headwall. The summit offers a commanding position with the north wall of the Argentiere basin lined up in front of you and unparalleled views of the Chardonnet south face and into Switzerland across the Trient plateau. Its no wonder Emile Allais was attracted to ski the Milieu in the 1940s.

Tom and myself originally wanted to ski the south west face of the Droites but unseasonally high temperatures kept us off the big steep faces and we decided to go to Y couloir. After having a look at the north face and Barbey (both look terrible) we tagged the summit at noon after climbing a short exposed steep wall of hard ice and wandered over to the top of Y couloir. We found the couloir well filled in for this time of year and conditions were just on the warm side of perfect with not a breath of wind allowing us to ski really quickly and get down out of the heat. Once again the summer heat wave has caused the glacier to drop and 45 m ropes are optimal for the skiers right abseil.

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Capucin

A quiet Sunday on to the Capucin couloir was what we hoped for, no stress from people behind & time to enjoy it. As I put the track in towards the Periades I looked over my shoulder and was shocked to see 25 people following! Fortunately they were only going for low angled pow and soon turned around leaving us to enjoy the mountains in peace. With all the recent wind I guessed the line would filled in but it was still amazing to see so much snow there. If I hadn’t been the first person in there this year I would have skied in form the col but I wanted to cut the slope while on the rope.

The uppers skied really well while the lower half on the bed surface was chalky. After the summer’s heat wave the glacier has dropped significantly providing us with the added surprise of a 30 m abseil to get out of the couloir.

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Cosmiques Arete

A perfect cloudless winter day for Michelle to practice her mountaineering skills and for me to practice some short roping on her! No matter how many times you do this route its still loads of fun in a beautiful setting. Thanks Michelle!

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