The Skyway area with its 1500 m high faces stretching from Tour Ronde to the Grandes Jorasses is locally referred to as the Wild Side. Yesterday with strong wind it was living up to its reputation as we opened the Marbree Couloir and the shoulder of Aiguille d’Entreves.
Opening the Entreves, Skyway Mont Blanc
Fantastic day with Dave Searle, Griffin Post, Mikey Arnold, Thor Husted, Miles Smart, Gilles Sierro, and Hans Solmssen.
Couturier-Whymper on La Verte
Dave Searle and myself have been wanting to do a traverse of the Verte for a couple of years now combining climbing Couturier and skiing Whymper onsight. After all the free-riding in January and February I was up for an alpine traverse trip like this which offers so much in the way of adventure, challenge, unknown, excitement and great training. The Aiguille Verte is an amazing mountain at 4122 m and all its routes are long and demanding. We were joined by Mikko Heimonen.
Aiguille Verte on the far right with the 1000 m Couturier Couloir descending direct from the summit.
The sunny side of Aiguille Verte, Whymper Couloir descends right of the summit.
Nearing the top of the Couloir and the end of the neve with black ice and seracs looming.
We threaded the seracs along a ramp in the sun above the rock.Mikko on the Verte for the first time.
Almost feeling Himalayan due to the cold, with 40 kph wind we were glad to get off the austere north side and into the sun.
Panorama Aiguille Leschaux to Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc and the Chamonix AiguillesThe wind tugged at our skis along the exposed ridge.
This week I headed back to the Miage area to ski some more of those massive 1000 m couloir lines with Michelle Blaydon, Kirsti Lehtimaki and Mikko Heimonen who had just landed in Chamonix. The powder has all been blown away leaving hard edge-able wind buff which made the boot pack a joy. First up was the line lookers left of the Bonatti which is reminiscent of a Domilimiti line with huge walls souring high above our heads. This line is overlooked since it doesn’t top out on the ridge but with 850 m vertical of skiing I don’t care. Probably the best couloir I have skied in the Mont Blanc Massif with a few hundred metres of 50 degrees at the top and an exciting ramp above some mixed ground. Second up was the 1200 m Domenech Couloir on the Aiguille de l’Aigle which we onsighted from the top. We arrived back at Zerotta in the Courmayeur ski area early afternoon and enjoyed relaxing in the sun and eating pizza and having a beer!
Kirsti on the changing lines pitch.
Kirsti skiing the lower couloir.
Time to relax!
The Devil’s Spires
I had been wanting to ski the Macho Couloir off Col Diable for a while now but finding a partner who was free was proving challenging. My Black Crows team mate Tom Grant arrived back in Chamonix with his usual high level of psych and he was willing to go do whatever was good. It all looked set, the only minor setback was Tom being kicked out of the first cable car for missing a payment on his season ski pass. With that sorted he managed to jump the queue and caught me up as I ambled down the valley blanche scoping out conditions en route. Good job he did catch me up as it was super deep and we had to trench our way up sustained 50 degree slopes to the col, arriving there pretty tired mid afternoon after 5-6 hours of uphill. The ski down was exceptional with overhead blower and the 125 under foot Noctas eating it up, we just had to take care not to get sluffed off the face. Amazing conditions and just as well, this route is steep, exposed and technical. I loved it. High on the ridge amongst the spires staring down at the Grand and Petit Capucins hundreds of metres below. I bet it would feel really steep in spring snow.
Tom negotiating the lower rocks.
The route climbs behind the left hand spires onto the serac bench then up the headwall behind where our tracks can be seen.