|Great Skiining conditions|
|The team. Jamie, Ben and Calum|
|Making a new plan|
|Ben on Frendo - Ravanel|
|Me on Frendo - Ravanel|
In the Sella hut we met Calum and Jamie who had the same idea so we joined forces and completed the 6 day tour together, driven on by Calums endless cheese related jokes! I had been on this tour a couple of years ago but bailed due to bad snow conditions, this time I was keen to complete. The tour started with some very difficult conditions, high winds and knee high sastrugi (wind erosion). Word had got around that several teams hadn't made the summit of Gran Paradiso (4061m) so we hoped our attempt the next day would bring results. Fortunately the wind eased, the clouds parted and the summit was there for the taking. A brilliant day and a great ski down. This was our high point of the tour, everything we did was slightly lower but we were blessed with fresh snow every night. Each of the following days we had fresh tracks, Calum and I hit some sweet jumps and the final day completed the best week of ski touring I have ever done. I can't wait to be able to do a week like this as work!
Great company, great condition's and a brilliant tour.
|Uisdean on the Swiss route|
|Ben and I on the summit Les Courtes|
|View of Mont Blanc and Jorasses on the left|
After our week in Italy, Ben and I headed to Chamonix to make the most of Ben's last 4 days. We thought no need for a rest day, lets just get up high again and climb Supercoulior! We were psyched, first in line for a lift up the Aiguille du Midi, we had ski's, climbing gear and some grub. We also met up with Uisdean and Tim. All we needed is for the lift to open. Guess what!...it didn't. Damn it, we had to have a rest day. New plan had to be formed!
The following day Uisdean and I met up with Paul Swail and John Macune for a spot of relaxing sport climbing, to be honest we only did 3 routes as we were all pretty tired from the last few days.
For us all, it was back to the weather forecasts, back to the drawing board. Our research showed that the weather looked good so John, Uisdean and I planned for an ascent on the Colton Macintyre on the Grande Jorasses. Surely 3rd time lucky for me on this North Face?! We took the afternoon lift up to the Aiguille du Midi and skied into the face, carrying all out climbing equipment, bivi equipment, winter boots and plenty of food. We dug bed space below the face, away from any fall lines, brewed up and settled for the night. I remember thinking that this time I would make it to the top! Everything was falling into place in the morning, we started on time and we were all feeling pretty fresh. We made good progress into daylight and found ourselves at the midway point...at this point we hit our brick wall! The 90 degree ice was cruddy snow. No placements, no ice screws. OK not to worry, lets take the harder variation...cruddy snow. No placements, no ice screws. I couldn't believe it! Why does this face not let up for me!? After several attempts we decided to call it a day, retreat back to our ski's, retreat back to Chamonix. I knew this was going to be my last window for a big route on this trip and as I am writing this I am now on the wire...I want to climb another big route but maybe I will save it for another time, should I just go rock climbing or should I endure another big committing North Face...only time will tell! Either way, I'm sure it will be fun.
|Cruddy 90 degree snow!|