My first few days in Chamonix have been somewhat monochromatic. The first two days were basic piste skiing which isn’t worth writing about but it served the purpose of getting the legs moving, having not skied since October. Clouds and flat light had dominated these days – and Chamonix with its dramatic peaks overhead is quite the melancholy place in poor visibility. It makes you feel like the mountains towering over you go forever & you can’t quite imagine the delights they permit in better weather.
Day 3 – Glacier de Toule & Combe de la Vierge
But on Saturday it was go time. Through most of Friday there had been rain in the village and snow above about 1500m so we decided to go high and check it out. Our initial plan was to ride the Aiguille du Midi, skin across the Vallee Blanche to the Helbronner and assess whether we would drop into Italy or if the weather was deteriorating just ski the Vallee Noire back to Chamonix. I had never done the Vallee Noire, which is the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche, and skiing the Glacier de Toule is always a great option
Mont Blanc in the background, previous steep skiing descents in the foreground:
Looking across to the Aiguille du Midi
Skinning across to Combe de la Vierge, 'Les Trois Monts' in the background
Looking down at the goods:
More pics and words at: http://aussieskier.com/trip-reports/chamonix-2013/tr-chamonix-2013-day-3-glacier-de-toule-combe-de-la-vierge/
Day 4 – Vallée Blanche Gros Rognon
Yesterday’s grey skies yielded some lovely powder but there’s something about sunshine that adds to the overall quality of the day, even though it does nothing to enhance the powder and in fact damages it at the right elevations and aspects.
So with this in mind there was not much decision making to be done when we saw the forecast for sunny skies, and we reserved our place in the first cable car up the Aiguille du Midi at 8:10am with our friends from Australia, father and son team Phil and Jack. Phil is another former instructor, and Jack is 19 and coming to the end of his first season instructing in Austria, and his youth combined with 3 months on snow already meant his skiing was strong. They had visited Chamonix before but it was their first time up the Aiguille which is always an occasion.
Yesterday while skiing the Combe de la Vierge we spotted some nice untracked powder in the Gros Rognon area, which is generally regarded as a place where the deeper snow settles in the Vallee Blanche, so we rode the cable car, roped up for the Arete and then made a beeline for the pow:
CG on the rope conga line in the ice tunnel:
Looking back up at the Arete
My line from yesterday hugging the cliffs:
Nicole and Jerome:
Ducks & Jerome:
Screwing around on the Glacier:
More pics & words at: http://aussieskier.com/trip-reports/chamonix-2013/tr-chamonix-day-4-vallee-blanche-gros-rognon/
Day 5 - Courmayeur
After yesterday’s epic on the Vallee Blanche and Grands Montets, the forecast was ordinary and we had low expectations. Because Phil and Jack don’t have touring gear our options were limited and Jerome and I were at a loss at what to do. The snow down low in the Chamonix valley is dust on crust and up high is all tracked.
So we decided to go to Courmayeur, mainly because it was a change of scenery and skiing in Italy was always fun. So we headed through the tunnel and rode the mismatch of lifts and finally found ourselves at the top. And with a surprise. There was a foot of fresh snow.
From the top of Courmayeur there are two main off-piste areas that extend to each side of the resort. There was some cloud about so we simply decided to go to the one that looked more clear, which turned out to be the Arp Vielle area which drops down into Val Veny with the wild landscape of the South face of Mont Blanc looming overhead.
Scoping the line:
Couloir below with some distracting background:
Nicole testing her new skis:
Now over to the other side:
Jack likes the snow:
Myself and Phil:
More pics & words at: http://aussieskier.com/trip-reports/chamonix-2013/tr-chamonix-2013-day-5-courmayeur/