For skiing its still really pre-season here in the Alps. So far there have been a number of storms off the Mediterranean depositing snow to the South of the main divide of Mont Blanc and the Pennine Valais Alps. Tignes, Aosta, Cervinia have good early coverage with Gressoney reporting 1-2 m. The next storm is about to roll in off the Med and I’ll be trying to hit Gressoney mid week once it clears.
Yesterday I went for a ski tour with fellow British Mountain Guide Jon Bracey to border of Italy and Switzerland thinking we could catch the fall out of the storms. I’d say we definitely scored a ‘win’ with about 40-50 cm of powder in our 500 m 40/45 degree couloir but it’s very hit or miss and the mountain one valley was bare. So it’s good if you choose location carefully but for the moment Chamonix, Arolla, Zermatt, St Anton still await the big northerly storms. With all the southerly Foehn storms I’m sure there is a lot of snow in the Valley Blanche and even the North Face of the Midi is pretty white but the snowline stops at the foot of the Chamonix Aiguilles and doesn’t cross the valley. Wepowder have hinted Andermatt caught the snow from the south but I haven’t checked this.
If you are holding on to book a last minute Christmas ski holiday then I would choose your resort based on current snow conditions and not just hope it will come to your favourite resort.
Last weekend I got a chance to go back to the Jorasses for the first time in 7 years. I teamed up with Ben Tibbetts and we were joined by Misha Gopaul and Jeff Banks for a social day out. I had managed a day acclimatising up the Midi skiing earlier in the week so it wasn’t a straight from the office hit which Andy Houseman and myself had done the last time on Colton Macintyre. After the warmest bivi ever in the mountains at montenevers, we walked in during the early hours, therefore avoiding a bun fight at the overcrowded Leschaux hut. It was a beautiful starry night and Ben caught a fantastic shot of the face under the stars with several teams well established on the Colton Macintyre, Croz and Polish routes. As we arrived for first light the face was relatively quiet and we quickly got to work climbing neve for several hundred metres. A few goulottes of ice and neve followed with fun climbing that was never hard up to the summit ridge where we were treated with gorgeous autumnal milky light over the Peuterey Ridge and the Aosta Valley.
Big thanks to Ben (Misha and Jeff) for a memorable day and the photos!
The Polish Michto Variation on Grandes Jorasses North Face (2011 photo Ben Tibbetts)
Our comfy bivi at Montevers
Climbers on the Desmaison, Colton Macintyre and Croz/Polish Routes Gearing up to go Steep Sugar Through the BergshrundA Happy Team
The First Goulotte Section
Ben TibbettsBen Climbing a Thinner Seam as We Catch a Spanish Team
Me Pulling Through a Steep Section
Typical North Face Icy Mixed Terrain
Ben Pulling Through onto the Summit Snowfields
Gorgeous Warm Day
Climbing into the Sun on the Summit Ridge Snowfields
Ben Savouring the Summit Ridge Views
Pointe Marguerite – Named After the Queen of Savoie
Mont Blanc and the Peuterey Ridge
Martin Elias descending after an ascent of Directe de l’Amite with Korra PesceBen Approaching the Reposoir at Sundown
Today I wanted to get out and put some miles in my legs. On the back of the pre-Christmas Scottish Winter Climbing season and very little road biking this summer they are even more spindly than normal and we started the ski season with a fair bit of touring. So with great snow conditions I have the chance to get some strength back. I left the SLR at home in order to go light and enjoy the skiing more but had a little point and shoot.
I was joined by Max Turgeon and we kicked off on Brevent to take advantage of the fresh snow on the lowers. Cold, sluffy blower was lying in wait and we had a lot of fun playing with sluff.
The plan praz couloir. Max skiing below.
And again here.Me ready to open Bellachat after pushing off a bit of cornice and watching the sluff go airborne.
After Brevent started to warm up I switched to the darkside and had some sweet runs off the Plan going flat out. Then as the sun came round I decided to head up the Midi and do a Rond or Cosmique. For a change I went for the Cosmiques which is always lush in the afternoon sun, all to yourself, no one trying to kill you with rocks from above, and overhead blower so cold I wished I had a gimp mask.
Only 2 or 3 tracks today.
Me enjoying the warmth of the sun after the cold on the Midi. My leg muscles were well warmed up by the time the para came round and it felt good to finish the day on such a good slope arcing out the GS turns.