Friday, April 25, 2014

Trip Report: Petit Mont Blanc: Couloir versant NE

We had a celebratory "end of winter" BBQ at our place and invited friends over for grilled goods and cocktails as we watched the Bosson crumble away, very representative of the decaying snowpack here in the Cham. Davide De Masi photo:

Despite the rising temps of the day and forecasted for the future, as more cocktails were consumed I was reminded of our pow day the day before on the Tricot. Tom and Caroline were talking about going into the Miage the next day and skiing a line I've had my eyes on for the last couple weeks. Knowing there could still be more pow hiding and knowing that if there was it wouldn't be good for much longer, we decided to head to Italy, the land of milk, honey, and 3,000 ft north facing couloirs the next day. This may have been a cocktail influenced decision, only time would tell but I couldn't wait to get back in this awe-inspiring zone nonetheless. We rode the Bonatti Couloir last year about this time and it was truly one of the most beautiful descents of my life.  This time we had our sites on a pinner line on the Petite Mont Blanc, the Couloir versant NE. I snapped this shot from the Sommet du Mont Blanc last year, the Bonnatti Couloir to the right of our line:

Climbing up the couloir. The snow was firm, consolidated and cold. Pretty ideal for steeps. There were two Scott's ahead of us putting in the bootpack, thanks guys! I usually would've been terrified by someone skiing above me in a narrow couloir like this but the snow wasn't going anywhere and the dense pack wasn't giving off much sluff. We watched them link up perfect jump turns down the steep narrow part of the line and the snow looked great. Davide De Masi photo:

Carolina and I gettin high, as it steepens. Davide De Masi photo:

Me shreddin' the upper section. It felt pretty steep but the line chokes and turns a corner halfway up, tricking you into thinking it's only half as big as it really is. Davide De Masi photo:

Lil C making textbook jump-turns! Get it girl! 

Tom sluffing Caroline, lol but not really as the sluff wasn't bad. Davide De Masi photo:

This is where it choked a bit. I think this can be an icy rock step sometimes but it was nicely filled in, just a bit icy on the left but really nice on the right. Davide De Masi photo:

The skiers hauled ass out from the glacier and skated their way down the flattest of flat, manky 2 mile road back to Courmayeur to tell the lifties to hold the last chair for their handicapped, beater, splitboarder accessory. We went immediately to Bar Roma and stuffed our faces with free apr├ęs, all-you-can-eat Italian delicacies, washed down with negroni's.

--Liz Daley, AAI Instructor and Guide

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