Point d’Arselle & Pointe de Méan Martin 15/01/18 (Val d’Isère)

I had skied the North Face of Mèan Martin last year, but never bothered to go from the summit & skied straight from the ridge onto the glacier and I only really cared about the skiing. With my new & much lighter gear, I had a new drive to make the summit in a decent time, to work on my fitness etc etc..

So I joined Si and Ant who are both currently training for the PDG this spring – a good couple of pace setters for me to try & keep up with!

Cugnai was shut, adding another 100m or so vert in the morning, Si had also decided that we should also add in the summit of Point d’Arselle into our day, so we traversed on skins straight from the top of Cugnai across to the peak. I was halted on the summit ridge due to forgetting my boot crampons, so I skied from just below the summit, getting some awesome early morning turns in…

After Si and Ant skied the West face of Point d’Arselle (more awesome snow), I met them at Refuge du Fond des Fours, the start of the skin up to the summit of Mèan Martin – around 800m vertical height gain.

The skin went along fine, with me trying to keep up with this pretty fit pair & snap some pictures of them.

As we reached the summit, the cloud started to roll through, signifying the approaching storm that is gonna dump another heap of fresh snow on the Alps…

The skiing on the Glacier des Fours wasn’t half as nice as it was last year, but it was good to get some good mileage and over 1000m vert in the legs before we get locked down into the tree runs for another few days (at least!)

Route topos below, blue = skin track & red = ski descent

 

North Face of Pramecou & Grande Balme 13/01/18 (Tignes)

Jamie’s last day coincided with me getting some time off between dropping off and picking up clients from the Altiport, so we decided to head for the North Face of the Pramecou (rope in entrance) and the Grande Balme. I would have liked to ski the triple (especially so early in the season), but the North Face of the Grande Motte had a huge crown wall across the central line, signifying some pretty stripped snow.

I hadn’t much time between work, so a pretty prompt skin up the Pramecou was in order…

 

This entrance to the North Face of the Pramecou requires a rapell from a single bolt (we backed it up for the first one down, just to make sure), which puts you onto a really nice face which rarely sees many skiers per season.

 

We cut off a big chunk of cornice down onto the slope below, and I gave the snowpack a good testing whilst still on the safety of the rope before we committed fully to skiing the face – we were the first party on this section of the Pramecou this season, so a hint of caution was needed.

 

With no word of my clients returning in the immediate future, we also planned a quick romp up to the top of the Grande Balme to then go onto ski the North Face which gives an awesome couloir with a wee right-hand turn in it above a rock band to keep things interesting – I’ve always had some awesome fresh conditions in this couloir every time I’ve skied it, today wasn’t any different!

 

Tignes/Val d’Isère Backcountry Skiing Roundup 14/01/18

The seemingly continual snowfall continued on at the start of this week, closing the resort and bringing the avalanche advisory back up to Cat.5, something that is rarely seen in ‘normal’ seasons, let alone twice in a couple weeks.

Things cleared up perfectly from Thursday (11th) onwards, allowing us all to venture out of the trees and start to ski some of the alpine terrain and look to open up some nice descents that haven’t seen any skiers all season 🙂

There looks to be more snow on the way in the middle of next week – they’re reporting 40(ish) cm to fall just on Tuesday night, if this is true then we could possibly see another resort/road closure in the Esapce Killy region, especially with the strong westerly winds that are set to pick up along with this snow. It’s amazing news for the resort & Heliski conditions, we’ll just have to take a look at what conditions are like after the snowfall – I just hope that it doesn’t fall super warm again, turing the trees into a brutal custard fest!

On Friday, I had some of the most Heliski conditions I’ve seen for sometime, these conditions look set to continue into this week coming up!

I’ll leave you with some phoots anyway, so that you can see how things are fairing – you can also check out my blog on skiing Pramecou North Face (rope in) and Grande Balme North Face.

 

Couloir Alaska (la Grande Tourne) 25/12/17 (Tignes)

I took a solo Christmas day trek up to the top of La Grande Tourne in Tignes, to ski the classic Couloir Alaska in some pretty nice spring conditions, to be back for my Christmas lunch!

I was just by myself for this trip & wanted to make a fast ascent/descent so didn’t bother to bring my larger camera, so I’m afraid that you’ll have to make do with my phone pictures below.

 

 

Couloir Alaska is a ‘Y’ shaped couloir, with two different entrance points at the top. Having skied both, I’d say that the skiers right entrance is much more straightforward and not too steep, whilst the skiers left entrance is a little steeper.  It’s also pretty important to say that the skiers right entrance in more easterly facing, so you might find slightly softer snow there if you get there early enough in the morning.

 

 

Couloir Alaska is reached by taking l’Aiguille Percee chairlift up, to then traverse around to a col that leads to the back of la Grande Tourne. After this col is reached, a relatively easy bookpack begins up the back of la Grande Tourne (axe and boot crampons are sometimes helpful) – if you don’t know the specific access point from the back of la Grande Tourne then you should consider booting straight up the couloir.

It’s vital that you get this couloir in the morning, due to it’s easterly aspect. I dropped into Alaska at 11:30 and the snow was slightly icy at the top but had already transformed into nicer snow in the final 3/4 of the couloir.

 

Tignes/Val d’Isère Backcountry Skiing Roundup 01/01/18

Here’s a wee roundup of how things are doing around Tignes & Val d’Isère. It’s been a pretty snow-filled week after the Christmas sun, meaning that I’ve been staying in and around the Les Boisses/Brevieres tree runs & venturing out when the visibility conditions have allowed!

Hope the photos/video below give an idea of how things have been in resort. In short, we’ve got some amazing snow coverage, particularly this early on in the season. There had been some initial instabilities from a very high rain line bringing a very water saturated snowpack – this then refroze overnight and turned into some horrific rain crust the next day! I’m looking forward to things clearing up to see how the steeper lines are fairing 😉

We’ve got another 5 or so days of snowfall in the forecast which is obviously going to raise the avalanche danger again with lots of snowfall and strong winds, so keep an eye on that.

 

 

 

 

 

Grapillon Couloirs (Tignes) 24/12/17

Wowzers! I’m so far behind on my blog! Don’t mind these old posts, conditions have definitely changed in resort since these pictures were taken, it’s just good for me to get it all written down onto my blog – enjoy!

P.S. please see the most recent post in My Journal for (hopefully!) the most up to date conditions report!

 

Bit of shark dodging today in the Grapillon Couloirs! These are easily accessed from the back of Pointe de Chardonnet (like Couloir Jambe de Chien, but keep traversing round to start the bootpack).

They then drop into Col de la Tourne so pack your skins to get back to Grande Huit!

 

Blue for ascent, red for descent.

 

 

Couloir des Nettes, Grande Motte (Tignes) 21/12/17

Wowzers! I’m so far behind on my blog! Don’t mind these old posts, conditions have definitely changed in resort since these pictures were taken, it’s just good for me to get it all written down onto my blog – enjoy!

P.S. please see the most recent post in My Journal for (hopefully!) the most up to date conditions report!

 

We headed to the classic line down the SE face of the Grande Motte, Couloir des Nettes. This couloir is rarely visited as it requires a 25m rappel (so make sure you bring at least 50m of rope) from the top to get into it, after that the couloir is relatively straightforward. With the couloir trending in a SE aspect, you want to make sure you get it early, to avoid any over-cooked snow conditions falling on top of you.

 

We were the first to open up the couloir so found some pretty sweet POW all the way down!

Yellow for rappel, Blue for ascent, red for descent.

 

 

Col de la Grassaz (Tignes & Parc National de la Vanoise) 20/12/17

Wowzers! I’m so far behind on my blog! Don’t mind these old posts, conditions have definitely changed in resort since these pictures were taken, it’s just good for me to get it all written down onto my blog – enjoy!

P.S. please see the most recent post in My Journal for (hopefully!) the most up to date conditions report!

 

With a bump in the avalanche advisory (from 3 up to 4), we decided to keep things mellow today to avoid getting caught out by any nasty changes in the snowpack over night (strong winds and warm temperatures were forecast today). Col de la Grassaz seemed liked a good choice, keeping us away from any temptation to take things any steeper and it allowed for us to get a good view on how some other objectives were doing in the Vanoise National Park.

 

Does anybody know if this couloir has been skied?! Looks perrrfect!

 

The tour is essentially just a drawn-out ski/skin around Aiguille Noir (see maps below) but a great way to work on fitness and keep yourself well away from trouble on those high-risk days.

 

Blue for ascent, red for descent.

 

Couloir des Pisteurs (Val d’Isère) 19/12/17

Wowzers! I’m so far behind on my blog! Don’t mind these old posts, conditions have definitely changed in resort since these pictures were taken, it’s just good for me to get it all written down onto my blog – enjoy!

P.S. please see the most recent post in My Journal for (hopefully!) the most up to date conditions report!

 

Pisteurs was in pretty good condition on 19th December 2017! After leaving things a few days to settle following some BIG early season dumps, we headed into Couloir des Pisteurs. Things had been slightly tracked by what looked to be 3-4 groups before us (thanks) so we were happy with snow stability at that point.

 

We took the skiers left exit into the secondary couloir with gave some amazing conditions – especially this early on in the season.

 

Oh and I’ll let the photos below describe how the conditions were on the exit slopes just after the couloir 😉

 

Blue for ascent, red for descent.

 

Couloir Jambe de Chien (Chardonnet Bowl, Tignes) 04/12/17

Wowzers! I’m so far behind on my blog! Don’t mind these old posts, conditions have definitely changed in resort since these pictures were taken, it’s just good for me to get it all written down onto my blog – enjoy!

P.S. please see the most recent post in My Journal for (hopefully!) the most up to date conditions report!

 

 

Couloir Jambe de Chien is located in the Chardonnet Bowl and is the furthest left (skier’s left) couloir that splits the face of Pointe du Chardonnet. You can access it by hiking up to the ridge straight in front of you as you get of Grattalu chairlift. This ridge is split by a couloir that is easily skied down towards Lac du Grattalu and into the backside of Pointe du Chardonnet – make sure you keep your height and traverse skiers right to save too much of a hike (see below).

 

 

Blue for ascent, red for descent.

 

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