The ski line we took on the Frendo with abseils shown by the dotted line.
I had gone to ski the Frendo 3 times this season, each time being thwarted by conditions; crusty down low, then rain runnels on the lower section and finally wind slabs on the upper half. So after a long productive winter, a lot of routes ticked and an ongoing chest infection, it was time for a break from the mountains and we headed to the Ligurian coast for some sun and warmth.
A few days down there soaking up the warm rays was just what I needed to recharge the psyche to ski another big line. It was with a small weather window after some spring storms that I then rushed back to Chamonix to see what was in condition. After a warm up lap in the Cosmiques to remind myself how to ski, I asked Bird if he wanted to ski Frendo the next day. Luca had also been wanting to do this line for a while now and got in touch with Ben making up two teams the evening before. We were set to go. In the morning Minna was psyched too so we ended up being the freeride 5!
The last time I was on the Frendo Spur was in 1997 and I was climbing it. We raced up the arrete in a blizzard hoping to get up round the top buttress before the sluffs got out of hand. We tied on for the final ice couloir placing gear on the rock just in case a big sluff came down. Once we got to the Midi I remember struggling to untie frozen ropes and take crampons. The lift was shut and we had to sit around for nearly 24 hrs until they de-iced the cables the next day. In stark contrast, this time, we enjoyed sweet sunshine and dreamy snow conditions from top to bottom – almost unheard of on a 1100m face at the end of May.
Maybe you don’t have to go to Alaska for spines and velvet powder after all! It has to be one of the most aesthetic ski lines in incredible situations. A very memorable day spent with friends.
I’m just back from a rock n road trip to Finale and heard things were good so rushed down to the Midi to catch the mid morning window of opportunity. Bird and Minna were coming out of the cafe and Camille soon joined. I’d been expecting to ski alone so didn’t have my SLR which was a shame for the big wide open skiing in the Cosmiques. Conditions are pretty epic right now and it was bottomless powder to the bottom – what a way to get back on skis after a week off! Thanks to Bird, Minna Riihimaki and Camille Jaccoux.
Minna in the starting gate.
The plan was to go to the Grand Gervasutti on Tacul with sunshine forecast. Tom and myself had bivouacked the previous night to get an early start but half way up Tacul in 20 m visibility it became clear that the weather had changed and we turned round and returned to the Midi completely rimed up battling the cloud and wind. Arriving at the Midi the next morning we found out that opening was delayed till 1030 so that put and end to that Gervasutti attempt. Instead we settled for a run down the North Face in Eugster Couloir. Back at the mid-station there was some technical hitch and we waited several hours until 1830 to get down. Not a good logistics day at the Midi!