The forecast looked good for wednesday morning and being a bank holiday i decided to head up the midi for a ski. The window wouldn’t be big enough to go far, so that narrowed the options down to the north face. I have skied all of the classics a few times and fancied something a bit different so after some inspection the previous evening through my binoculars i easily convinced Tom Grant the Frendo was the line to go for.
While we were waiting around for a weather window to ski it became evident that another team of Andreas Fransson, Bjarne Salen and JP Auclair were headed for the same line. I had a quick chat with Andreas and we both thought skiing on top of another team wouldn’t be safe so he kindly invited us to all ski together, a very nice thing to do as they were filming that day.
We didn’t have the best weather for the descent but this added to the adventure and it was an all round great day out in good company. A massive thanks to Andreas for leading all the raps and setting up some bomber anchors. The weather was making it hard for photos but the few i got where the lens isn’t covered in moisture are below (I’m sure Bjarne got some good footage though.) The line in the photo is now equipped for 60m rappels and conditions are looking good for next week so get on it!
About 3 weeks ago now i met Luca Pandolfi and Cedric Bernardini at the Aiguille du Midi lift with the aim of skiing the Mallory. There had been a lot of snow over the weekend and the face was looking good. All 16 people that went up to ski that day ended up skiing Mallory, the young Chamoniard’s beat us out of the tunnel and dropped in first. We went in straight after and skied down to the demi lune with them, where we waited so we wouldn’t sluff them out on the first crux. Just as we set off again the Black crows team appeared behind us, they were closely followed by Seth Morrison and the Ordinary skier team.
The decent was full on, powder in places, wind slab in others and icy rain crust on the steep cruxes where the fresh snow had fallen off. We had to use the rope in two other places than the mandatory rappel but were expecting this as the route is not as well filled in as it has been in previous years. Cedric’s and Luca’s photos are below.
The day after Eugster Brendan and I headed for west direct. You start on the top of the North face as for Mallory and Eugster but cut left straight away. Looking down from here you can see an obious although narrow couloir which is not often filled. The decent is about twice as long as the normal entrance from the bottom of the rond and it looked good so we rapped the 45m into the couloir.
However once down we found that the snow had been baked in the afternoon sun the day before and had a unskiable thick icy crust. The top of the couloir is directly West facing and does not get the sun untill late in the afternoon. As it was only 9am we decided to rappel untill the couloir turns more NW and the snow became skiable. unfortunately this was only a short was above where I had skied from on several other occasions from the normal entrance. I will have to go back to this couloir in better conditions as the sking looks great here. In the pics below you can see Brendan rapping in and looking down the couloir from the rap point, from here where you ski from the Rond entrance is out of sight below.
Yesterday morning the weather turned out to be great, I had to work unfortunately and while i did that Brendan skied the Eugster. Lucky for me he agreed to go up and ski it again so I took a long lunch and got a 12pm bin up the midi. The couloir is in great condition and the sking was easy, nothing compared with the Mallory, there is however a small amount of ice showing through on the top of the face to be avoided. I had to be back at work so we didn’t hang around to take many pictures. The first picture was taken last year after sking Mallory with Brendan, the blue line is the Eugster couloir and the red Mallory.
The weather broke on Wednesday morning giving us time to blast down one of the North faces served directly from the midi lift. We wanted to ski either the Eugster couloir or the Col du Plan. There was a group setting of down the Eugster just before we got there so we decided to get some fresh tracks. The conditions were great and the sking was fast. Two more groups followed us down you can see one of them on the top of the face in one of the photos (3rd pic down.)
The weather in Chamonix has been terrible over the last few weeks with rain in town everyday, however this means snow up high and the sking has been good when you can see where you are! We went up to ski the rond on the 6th of this month and it had great powder snow on it, Brendan, Tom and I used the west coulior to exit but a large slide had taken most of the snow out of it and there were some tricky sections. We also had a close call with a slide that came out of the couloir just as we were exiting. There are some photos of me Clive took on the rond below.
We skied the west couloir again yesterday for the second time in three days this time accessing it from the Cunningham couloir. The conditions were great with deep powder for most of the decent. The ski back down to the mont Blanc tunnel was less fun in a complete white out and heavy snow and I had a few tantrums along the way. The snow in the Cunningham was really good but its a lot of messing around for a short ski and i will probably use the Rond in Future. Clive took some great photos which are below.
There has been a lot of bad weather and snow in Chamonix over the last week so yesterday we made the most of the sunshine and skied the west couloir. The original plan was to ski the Cunningham couloir to access it but there were already people raping in when we got there so we accessed it from the Rond. It is a short boot pack up to the notch and there is a small rap of about 15m into the couloir. The snow was great and we skied some waist deep powder out of the bottom of the couloir where it was less steep. There is still an icy step with no snow on it at the bottom of the couloir which we thought about jumping for a while before putting in a v thread for another 15m rappel. I didn’t take any photos but the guys I was sking with did, some of clives ones are below.