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

Face nord de Pramecou

A line that Paul and I had tried last season but first time round we had no fortune finding the anchor point, the next time we went for it Paul crashed on a red piste and finished his season.

After looking at it for the last few weeks we knew it was looking good, and while the main face was wind effected the first rope-in line was more protected and didn’t look wind effected. We tried but weather shut us down, a few days later it was perfect bluebird and knew this was the day to go for it.

Paul abseiling over the cornice

Paul abseiling over the cornice

Getting to the top of the face took about just over 1 hour from the lifts, and after roping up due to a cornice and checking the conditions we knew it was on. Paul abseiled in first and after a quick stability check radioed me to join him.

View over the cornice

View over the cornice

After abseiling down and coiling the rope we went, the snow was soft but slightly compact. This was the first time down the line for me and a great addition to the list.

Our lines down the face

Our lines down the face

A small movie from the day is below.

Click to watch the movie

Click to watch the movie

NK Freeride

I entered the Dutch Freeride Championship, although not Dutch I could still take part but obviously not get the crown if I won.

Both the qualifying event and the finals were held on the Dos Rond (coke frontside) a face that is just above the Brev bubble that I look at every time I go skiing, I have skied it countless times and therefore was pleased that the competition was to be held there.

Me at the top of the face entering the couloir during the finals

Me at the top of the face entering the couloir during the finals

The qualifying day was good, the sun was out and there had been a bit of snow the a few days before so it was looking good. Out of the 33 male skiers I cam away in 9th, which meant I qualified for the finals which were to be held on Thursday. Unfortunately bad weather arrived and the finals were postponed until the Friday, with the bad weather came lots of wind. The face was stripped of any soft snow and we were left with a wind scoured face, this meant for tough conditions on the finals day.

Click to watch the movie

Click to watch the movie

A short edit of the qualifier day and the finals day.

 

First Movie Edit

The first movie edit of the season included some footage from Mickeys Ears and also footage from the 2* Freeride World Qualifier event that was held in St Foy. I didn’t do very well as I managed to crash on the run out, but it was good to compete and looking forward to competitions in the future.

Click to watch the movie

Click to watch the movie

New Years Eve To Remember

New Years Eve comes around and while most people are thinking about heading to the pub, the sun was out and with a chance of some good snow. Paul and I decided to go and have a look at Couloir 3500 on the South Face of the Grande Motte.

The access at the top was a little rocky but the rest of the snow looked good and with only two tracks leading to the skiers left we opted for the skiers right leading underneath the direct line on the South Face, it meant a slightly longer skin out but we thought it would be worth it.

Our lines down the top section before heading skiers right

Our lines down the top section before heading skiers right

The snow was in great condition, shin deep all the way down to the valley floor, I have never skied this line with snow conditions like it.

Our lines under the South Face of the Grande Motte, the direct line shown in red, a line which is still on the tick list

Our tracks under the South Face of the Grande Motte. The direct line shown in red, a line which is still on the tick list

After skinning out for about 1 hour 30minutes it was a great way to end 2013.