Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Argentiere Tour

Well, on a rest day, Brian Edmiston and I got a rude awakening to skiing in Chamonix.  Pete Gaston and Max Taam, both of whom are well experienced in this area made a few recommendations.  We had a few big lines on the agenda and decided to "ease" into it with the Poubelle Couloir.  Almost immediately after stepping off the Brochard lift at the Grand Montets, one can walk over and drop into the Poubelle.  It typically requires a short rappel from the fence line to bypass rocks and an icy entrance.  When I walked up to the rail, it looked chalky and I was psyched.  We snapped a few photos, rigged the rappel, and dropped in to check it out.  

What looked good, felt horrible and sounded worse.  Barely able to hold an edge side slipping, we turned tail and booted back out.  I think the recent high winds and western exposure combined to turn the surface to an icy death wish.  I found this a fitting start to my Chamonix experience.  

From there, we took the tram to the top of the Grand Montets resort and were lured out of bounds and down onto the Argentiere Glacier.  The huge north faces of the Aiguille Vert, Les Droites, and Les Courtes towered above while we headed up the glacier.  

We decided to just explore and ski whatever looked appealing.   I had a very strong desire to head up an aesthetic couloir that I later discovered was the en Y on the Aguille d'Argentiere.  I wanted to stand on a summit and it looked reasonable but Brian had his eye on a glacier just a little higher.  

We climbed up until we found ourselves even with the dark walls, high on the other side of the Argentiere Glacier.   At the col, I could barely contain my excitement.  I wanted to climb and ski everything in all of Switzerland and France.  Unfortunately, reality dictated that we head down to catch a train back to Martigny as Brian's wife was racing early the next morning.  

The ski out the Argentiere was enjoyable only for the views as the snow was unpredictable and destroyed by wind.  On the way down, we spied some generic couloir and decided it was a must.  This time around, the sun had done its work and the surface was soft.  The chute led up and over to the Glacier Amethystes.  I got one last view of the Aiguille d'Argentiere and the Y before we turned down and enjoyed fantastic turns in one of the prettiest places I've ever been.    

It looked good but it didn't feel good

The Dru

The center of the universe

We mostly just took pictures all day

The Aiguilles du Chardonet, Argentiere, and l'A Neuve

Brian skiing with the Aiguille Vert and Les Droites above 

Les Droites

Aiguille Vert

The Millieu Glacier on the Aiguille d'Argentiere

Our route up the Glacier du Tour Noir to the Col d'Argentiere

Les Courtes

The Aiguille d'Argentiere and en Y Couloir

Looking into Switzerland

I was and am so happy



Photo by Brian

photo by Brian
Photo by Brian
Heading up some amazing couloir that probably doesn't even have a name
Brian topping out
Brian doesn't really ski chutes but he figured it out pretty fast

Photo by Brian

The generic couloir we found

Heading home