Unlocked Ski Aiguille du Midi North Face

France has had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe behind Italy and Spain so after 8 weeks of not seeing a soul it was great to return to Aiguille du Midi with friends and make that big turn left down the North Face.

Max Ritter of Teton Gravity Research writes:

This weekend marked the re-opening of perhaps the most iconic ski lift in the world: the Aiguille du Midi’s Telepherique in Chamonix, France. Home to unquestionably the gnarliest lift-access terrain in the world, the Midi was closed for most of its prime spring season, leaving local skiers and riders frothing to get back up into the icy heights of the Mont Blanc Massif as soon as possible. Their prayers were answered this past weekend.

RELATED: Check Out Vol. 1 Of the TGR Journal

None other than steep skiing mastermind Tof Henry and a group of friends made it up there early and skied some classic lines that look like they’re actually still in really good shape for the end of May. Check out what Tof and local IFMGA guide Ross Hewitt got into on their first day back on skis after the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

View this post on Instagram

That amazing moment when you slap your skis on the Midi arete and ski out into the world of light. First turns for me after 2 month lockdown. Midi North Face by Col du Plan, good upper, bad lower, but great to be out there with my friends. @tof_henry @gaspard_ravanel @mathieu_moullier @blackcrows-skis @petzl_official @lenz_products @julbo_eyewear @snowcountry.eu @plum_officiel @conceptchamonix @arvaequipment @sapaudiabrewing.co @sapaudia.beer.team #skiing #freeride #powder #skitouring #backcountry #sidecountry #health #fitness #fun #training #nutrition #glacier #alps #outdoors #outside #adventure #explore #guide #mountainguide #ifmga #weareskiing #chamonix #aiguilledumidi #northface #fuckcovid-19

A post shared by Ross Hewitt (@ross.hewitt) on

Beyond Good and Evil

The legendary Andy Parkin- Mark Twight route from the early 90s that took them multiple attempts to finish off. With a route with such high reputation for quality, it didn’t take much to get me fired up and psyched for it, and arguably its been a 20 year wait for the stars to align for me to get the opportunity to go. A quick ask round the trusted partners and Guy Steven instantly signed up. The crux would be to kit him out as he had flown out from Scotland for the week.

Many Alpine mixed routes fall short of the mark for me due to monotony of moves but each pitch of Beyond was so varied and unique providing continuous interest in stunning surroundings, mostly delicate and enticing rather than burley and intimidating.  A bit like Labrynth Direct on the Dubh Loch albeit much longer. 

We headed out from the small winter room at the Plan Refuge into a still mild night illuminated by the full moon. For the first 45 mins there was no need for a head torch as we took in the fantastic ambience under the Chamonix Aiguilles, friendly rather than foreboding. I kicked off and Guy and I alternated on the sharp end for 11 pitches to the junction with Thierry Rebuffat (known as Carrington Rouse in winter). With the upper pitches blasted dry by the wind we rapped arriving back at the skis at 130 pm and took the cable car to Big Mountain bar for some quality IPA to quench the thirst. All very civilized. Thanks @guystevenguide for a very memorable day.

38a4073e-f484-4e9c-86bc-1aa7fca37d6dIMG_0993IMG_09970d4bed05-4816-4e04-bde4-6f44b03480b8dfbd78af-5358-4f31-9fdd-f18df6c787e7IMG_1001IMG_1012IMG_10175c1afc81-2fea-4ed1-b473-864f2075da2696aa6f71-2e7a-4cf1-b719-1fdf28cd418017435770-71bf-4e55-9488-77f4a7eb5a6fIMG_1021IMG_1024IMG_1025

Chapow – the best of 2018

Chamonix 2018 went down as one of those all time seasons. Sometimes when you in the midst of it all skiing routes and planning the next one, there is so little time to see just how good it was. But putting these clips toegther made me realise how lucky we were. Even more so because in the preseason and about to depart for New Zealand’s Caroline Face, I got injured with a sequestrated L5-S1. Hobbling around Cham in mortal agony with a paralysed sciatic nerve that caused my glutes and calf muscles to wither and die, a successful ski season with around 15 North Face runs seemed a very unrealistic goal. Thanks to all those obsessive ski bums who I shared those turns with, those that sacrifice it all, coming from round the World, to ski down Chamonix’s big mountains.