Colin’s arrival was marked by England loosing to Scotland in the 6 nations. It took Colin all of 30 seconds after his arrival to mention it but he did bring fancy tonic water so all is forgiven.
Days 50 to 52
Sunday, up early and heading for Les Grands Montets. A quick stop in Sanglard to rent some fine Volkls for Colin and up the mountain we go almost on the first lift.
A glorious warm up run down the deserted Bochard Piste then up to the Top and 3275m altitude. Our mission to warm Colin up for Vallee Blanche adventure on Monday.
Top of the bochard
Top of Les Grands Montets
Mark & Colin
That is much easier in touring boots
A wonderful Sunny day with pretty good snow and Colin was raring to go higher.
Monday morning 8:45am at the Aiguille Du Midi lift to meet up with our Guide and the rest of our group (if any). There was plenty of time for a fine wander around the various viewing platforms including the top at 3800m, still 1000m lower than the top of Mont Blanc. Mark even braved the famous glass box.
Despite the minus twenty something degrees we navigated the Arete and had a very fine ski down amongst the beautiful scenery. Our Guide, Olivier was great company and was fun to meet Barry & Tim from across the pond. What a day.
Our Route. Up the Cable car down the Glacier Du Geant, along to the Mer de Glace, up the boot track, Down the James Bond track to Town .. home for tea and cake.
Tuesday & back to Les Grand Montets.
A Glorious morning view to inspire us then off to the top to fill Colin’s last day with us.
Some great action shots of Colin which I hope serve as a fitting souvenir of his 3 days in Chamonix.
Coming up next .. some well deserved days off and here comes the snow …
Days 48 & 49 (23rd and 24th of Feb) and we are trying to cover any inch of the Grands Montets missing from the GPX traces so far.
Our focus was in truth the various Glaciers accessible from the Top lift station, namely the Glacier d’Argentiere the Lognan & the Rognons. For the first time we turned right at the bottom of the steps and did an amazing descent down the full front face. It was a bit steep in places but more or less just the two of us and some lovely soft deep snow to lessen the terror.
We made friends with some entertaining Canadians in the lift queue who were off to skin up to the Argentiere hut well equipped with a lot of wine .. happy days.
These are the tracks for the 23rd February with all the previous Grands Montets trails underneath. I am pretty sure we have made a good attempt to make the whole place tracked.
Our next visitor, Colin, arrives tomorrow. He used to ski for the British Army .. I think we are in trouble.
Today we are out and about with Mountain Guide Tim Blakemore and Aspirant guide James Clapham (now qualified). We have a very civilised start with bright and early coffee Chez Nous then up the Flegere lift with a number of options to choose from.
After confessions of how slow I can really be on the up and how epic I was prepared to be … boot tracking and mountain climbing off the menu thank you, we settled on the Col du Belvedere and over the Aiguille Rouges into and along the Bérard valley below.
A fairly chilled skin up followed by a rather narly rope based lowering down couloir of horrific steepness, a few steep turns then into powdery pastures, a pootle along the valley and in all probability a bit of toboggan run combat ski to finish and train back to base from Le Buet.
Sounds like a plan.
Huge thanks to Tim and James for the plan, the encouragement on the steep up, sniffing out the bonus fluffy turns on the up, very helpful kick turn advice, fantastic pictures and all round good company. And for sure putting up with my slowness on the up so James froze his but off lowering us down from the Col as just as we reached it the sun left it.
Off to the GM despite the rubbish weather …. Unexpectedly the Plan Joran speedy bubble wasn’t running so we joined the epicly large queue for the Lognan cable car… reminded us of how things used to be before they put in the bubble. Not much of a consolation.
A good opportunity to do some narly gear spotting though.. This rope carrying attachment for one’s back pack was particularly exotic.
We headed straight for the top. One of the bonuses of the fast lift not working. Zero visability at the top … some great fluffy turns down the front which turned into binding popping heavy horror for the middle then a slushy home run … back to the car done for the day. I think we were less than enthusiastic for the new arrivals who had just pitched up in the car park asking what the conditions were like. We think they just went straight to lunch.
Day 42 and 43 .. skiing written off due to lurgy and rubbish weather were instead filled with winter olympics TV action. A mini one night only invasion by the Westwood Clan on their way home from Italy was also a very welcome distraction. How can three kids have so much energy after 1 week skiing .. phew.
There is a chance we dreamt the whole thing as after we saw them off at 6:00 am and went back to bed we were not at all sure, when we dragged ourselves up a few hours later, if we imagined it all.
Sadly we had to wave Rich and Steve off to their next destinations. Rich back to the UK and then off to Myanmar for more hot air ballooning & Steve back to the UK to psycho physically prepare himself for the next ski trip in March.
Rich’s last day consisted of laps round the bumps in the Italian bowl at Les Grands Montets which I think the photo’s show he navigated with some style worthy of the new outfit.
Then a dash to the top of the top in truly terrible vis.
Then the snow came back to visit for the send off.. looking good for Steve’s last day tomorrow.
Bye bye Rich and helloooo fluffy stuff.
A fine display of landcruiser plus balloon trailer driving skills by Rich and then we are off to the GM ….
The snow just kept on falling with a morning of fluff and less than ideal visibility but it soon gave way to glorious sunshine and some sunny snowy lines through the magic forest and then across the front face via the long traverse under the Bochard lift. Great job Steve.
Home in time for alpen glow on the Dru and the midi. I just never get tired of that view.
And finally … the shortish edit of the full adventure .. Some great conditions, mini adventures, good company & excellent skiing.
Tomorrow up the midi for some great views to see Steve off via Alpy bus..