First Summer Ride

The first ‘proper’ bike ride of the summer. I cycled up to Le Lac and cut back above the Bus Stop run from winter. It was a great ride going from 2200m down to 1550m along some flowy, narrow and in some places technical single track.

Click on the image to watch the movie

Click on the image to watch the movie

 

 

Cham In A Van

The end of the ski season had come around and not wanting the fun to end, we hatched a plan (not that complicated) to head off on a climbing trip. A few areas were mentioned Font, Verdon and one that kept repeating itself, Chamonix. Only 2/3 hours from Tignes, with more climbing than we could ever dream of and even with the ominous weather forecast, that was it we were going to Cham.

We arrived to rain and cloud and wondered what we had let ourselves in for, but it soon cleared up while we wondered round the town and with the views of the mountains, it became clear why we had come here. Huge peaks and glaciers rumbling into the valley, looking around the scenery really was awe inspiring.

Mont Blanc and Bossons Glacier

Mont Blanc and Bossons Glacier

Having not lead or even climbing properly in 18 months I was keen to just get some miles on the lower grades to get used to it again and remember what on earth all this kit was for. After a few climbs on lower grades, I soon remember what to do and we both soon got bored of the easier scrambly stuff and wanted to get back into it properly.

Neither of us really had any ‘goals’ as such, just wanting to get back into the swing of things and to prepare for, what will hopefully be, a climbing packed summer. The bonus for us is that climbing at the same level really helped as we could push each other, if one of us lead a climb, the other didn’t want to miss out (or secretly be ‘beaten’ by the other).

Leading at Les Galliands

Becky leading at Les Galliands

Bouldering at Col des Montets

Me bouldering at Col des Montets

We managed to get 7 days of climbing in, which we were both happy with but we didn’t even scratch the surface, not even slightly. The climbing areas we explored were throughout the valley. From the boarder with Switzerland to the low farmlands further down the valley and with one day of wet/rainy weather, we didn’t think we had done too bad and even managed to check into a camp site for a bit of added comfort as opposed to sitting in the van all day.

Becky abseiling at Galliands with with the Aiguille du Midi in the background

Becky abseiling at Les Galliands with with the Aiguille du Midi in the background

Spot of slack-lining

Spot of slack-lining

Unfortunately the trip was cut short, the weather was changing, rain was forecast (and a lot of it), the temperatures we dropping, so we scarpered back to Tignes. It was an amazing trip to a stunning area of France, and an area that I will, for sure, spend more time in the future.

Sunset

Sunset

We made a short movie of the trip, click below to watch.

screenshot_168

Click on the image above to watch the movie

Touring Adventure

With the temperatures remaining high Paul and I were still thinking the best snow was going to be found on higher north facing slopes. After looking through the maps and guide books to try and find a suitable face, we started to focus on La Tsanteleina, a peak that sits right on the French/Italian boarder.

Standing at 3602m we knew it would be an early start and a long day as the nearest we could park was at 1875m which was 8km away from the bottom of the face.

4.15 am getting kitted up at the car before setting off

4.15 am getting kitted up at the car before setting off

The alarm went off at 3.40am, picked Paul up at 4am and headed off, we started hiking at 4.30am in the pitch black, with the melt/freeze it meant the start was easy to hike as the snow was frozen solid, we then picked up the summer access road and started to skin from there.

Getting ready to start skinning

Getting ready to start skinning

My view for the first 2 hours

My view for the first 2 hours

As we were skinning up it became apparent that the face was highly unlikely to be in a skiable condition, it was obvious the wind had been very strong over the last few days and we were sure that the face would be stripped of snow. We decided to continue anyway as it was a good fitness test and with such beautiful scenery it would be silly to have turned around.

The sun starting to show its face, the peak in the centre is the Tsanteleina

The sun starting to show its face, the peak in the centre is the Tsanteleina

Paul skinning up

Paul skinning up

We both felt good and kept a good rhythm, a lot of it was was flat, but from around 2500m it started to get steeper and we put ski crampons on as the snow was very compact, we continued up to around 3000m and the last section was concrete-like snow and almost too steep to skin so we put skis on our back, ice axe in hand and continued the last 150 vertical meters to the plateau below the north face.

Me half way up the boot pack

Me half way up the boot pack

Once at the plateau we could see all of the north face and it was obviously un-skiable, there were huge patches of glacial ice and the little snow that was on there would have been bulletproof, so we found a nice rock, sat down and had some lunch with great views into Italy and beyond.

La Tsanteleina North Face, plenty of ice and bad snow

La Tsanteleina North Face, plenty of ice and bad snow

Nice view for lunch into Italy and beyond

Nice view for lunch into Italy and beyond

After eating and rehydrating we set off back to the car. The snow was really bad 99% of the way, we took a fall each as skis decided to go different ways. I think I made about 10 ‘good’ turns so for 5.5 hours up it was a lot of effort for the reward. Fortunately we managed to ski/skate the whole way back and didn’t need to put skins on again.

Skiing back to the car above Lac du Chervil

Skiing back to the car above Lac du Chervil

It was a good test and really interesting to head into terrain that neither of us of had been to or seen before. It is probably the most beautiful tour that I have done and will definitely be heading up there again at some point, even if its just for lunch again.

1 Face, 2 Days, 4 Lines

With the weather getting a lot warmer here in Tignes, Paul and I were thinking we had to go high and north facing, this left one face on our minds, the Face nord de Pramecou. After skiing the first rope-in couloir last week we knew that the snow was good and stable, after going out on Tuesday we knew that the next day we had to go for it again, so the plan was hatched. We would look at all the lines on the face and see if we could ski them all.

Skinning to the face on day 1, Grande Casse in the background

Skinning to the face on day 1, Grande Casse in the background

The first day we decided to go for the skiers right, the main face. There were two lines on here that we did the main face that basically follows the fall line, then second time round we went a bit further skiers right and skied a section a bit further over. Both are around the same steepness, the snow was soft and shin deep all the way down. There was a bit of slough but nothing that wasn’t manageable. Skinning up the first time round was tough putting in the skinning track with about 20-30cm of snow to plod through.

Our lines down the main face and on lookers left, a slight variation

Our lines down the central main face and main face skiers right, a slight variation

Paul dropping in on the second run before cutting skiers right

Paul dropping in on the second run before cutting skiers right

After two amazing runs with only our tracks on the face, we made the call to go for it again the next day. But opted for the lines further skiers left, the first rope-in couloir, which we had skied last week but then also the Y couloir, a line which I had never skied before and Paul had only skied 2 years ago.

Both lines for the next day required abseiling in, so skinning up with a rope/harness and all the other kit was tough even with the skinning track from the day before.

For the first line we decided to go for the first rope-in as this was more likely to get skied than the Y couloir and we wanted to try and get first tracks down both of them.

Throwing the rope into the first couloir

Throwing the rope into the first couloir

It was quick to get set up as we knew where the anchor was and we decided to leave the rope in place and collect it on the way to the Y couloir, this saved faffing around coiling it on the face and also skinning back up with it.

Our lines down the first rope-in face

Our lines down the first rope-in face

The snow was in good condition, slightly softer than the last time we had skied it and there was even less slough than the main face the day before. After getting to the bottom of the face it was a short boot pack to get back to our tracks from the day before.

Me dropping into the first rope-in face

Me dropping into the first rope-in face

Next up was the Y couloir, a line that doesn’t get skied too often, mainly because of the abseil entry and a small but mandatory air at the bottom. After having taken plenty of photos from the bottom, we were standing on top trying to find the entrance to the face, nearly all entry points are covered by big cornices that neither of us wanted to try and abseil over.

We found a good entry point but no anchor point, so while I was setting up a new anchor, Paul was clearing a section of cornice so we could get into the face.

Paul clearing away some of the cornice

Paul clearing away some of the cornice

Setting up a new anchor point

Setting up a new anchor point

Abseiling under the big cornice and then having to stay there to coil the rope was a little unnerving, I was quite relieved when it was all away and I was in a safe spot.

Abseiling under the cornice, can't even see half of it, really didn't want this to start chasing us down

Abseiling under the cornice, can’t even see half of it, really didn’t want this to start chasing us down

We decided to ski the line in 2 sections as opposed to charging down it, overall the snow was good, a little firm in places but still easily skiable. Airing over the small rocks at the bottom was much easier than I first thought as the slough had pretty much filled it in and it was just a small gap to straight line through.

Joining up with Paul half way down the Y couloir

Joining up with Paul half way down the Y couloir

Overall it was a great 2 days, skiing some good snow on an interesting mountain face, abseiling into the face makes the lines even more thrilling.

The whole Face nord de Pramecou. Showing the 4 lines we skied, the 2 on the left were day one and the 2 on the right were the tow lines from day 2 needing abseils to enter the face

The whole Face nord de Pramecou. Showing the 4 lines we skied, the 2 on the left were day one and the 2 on the right were the two lines from day 2 needing abseils to enter the face

I have made a short movie but looking back I think I can ski the lines faster and more fluid, but felt I had to make something out of the footage after such a great adventure!

Click the image to watch the movie

Click the image to watch the movie