Col de la Brenva voie Tardivel
After scoping out the line from the Tour Rond, myself, Tom Grant Cedric Bardardini and Luca Pandolfi caught a last lift up the midi last Wednesday. We were hoping that the Cosmiques hut would be full of guides with clients leaving at midnight and putting a track up the 3 Monts for us… It was not to be.
Leaving our comfortable bivi in the aiguille du midi at 4am having stashed our sleeping bags ect we made our way down the arete. I chose to ski but the conditions were marginal due to a strong north wind and after hearing the scratching of my skis the others sensibly walked down.
Slowly we navigated our way through the mess of the Mont Blanc du Tacul northface, bootpacking through deep snow where it had been deposited by the wind and front pointing where it had been scoured. Luca was feeling ill and moving slower than the rest, to avoid him coming off of the rope we swapped bags(mine about half the weight with super light movement bond x series skis and atk race bindings).
I have never enjoyed the boring plod up the 3 Monts but to be the only team on it making the bootpack and taking in a beautiful sunrise was great. Being well acclimitised and the easy pace also helped the usually hatefull experiance!
Once over the shoulder on Mont Maudit we worked out where the route starts from. I headed over first and looking down i knew it was the right spot. I excitedly shouted to the others who soon joined me. After a little food and water, at 9.30 i was making the first turns down the rarely skied face.
Its pretty scary dropping into a big line you havent climbed, not knowing how the snow is going to be or exactly where it goes. After a couple of turns in cold powder the top layer of snow soon became heavy from the early sun. There was an edgeable crust under it and although the top layer was sliding away it was controleable and enjoyable skiing.
I navigated down to the first rock band which was much bigger than it apeared from afar and so was the menicing serac above us! The Line i took was not the easiest so the others traversed slightly further right into a narrow passage where we joined up again. Cedric headed off through this first crux which passed easily and we were soon on the second snow field.
Tom headed down to find the best place to pass the second crux and found a a gully through the rocks which required only a few meters of side slipping to pass. From here the only thing in my head and i imagine everyone elses was to ski as fast as possible on the bottom slopes and away from the serac danger. A well filled burgshrund aided this.
Once in a safe spot we sat and watched Luca complete the bottom slope and then my phone rang…
Brendan O’sullivan who had been working the pervious day and couldnt join us was on the other end of the line, “did you ski it?” he asked “yeah, what are you up too?”, “im on top of the Maudit, was it good?” he had got a first bin and quickly soloed up our track, i was shocked for a moment but quickly replied “the snow is getting wet but go for it if your quick!”
We climbed back up to the kuffner arete and sat watching Brandan snowboard the face before the final section of steep skiing for the day down the aproach couloir for the bivoac de la fourche. The snow was very hard here and although we were tired concentration was vital. Brendan soon joined us at the bottom and we skied down to the montenvers train alltogether.
What a day, it is definatly the wildest place i have been skiing!