27 October, 2010

Chamonix Powder Skiing!!!

The first snows have fallen across the Alps this week. Sunday saw snow falling in most resorts across the northern Alps all day including Val D’Isere, the Trois Vallees, Chamonix and Morzine and there were reported accumulations of more than 40cm of fresh snow above 2000m.

This heralds one of the earliest starts to the season for a long time. Sadly much of it may not last much beyond the end of the week as warm southerly temperatures are due to arrive soon and stay for a few days. However at altitude the north and east facing slopes should stay covered now the days are getting shorter and colder.

I have been back in the UK for a week and was disappointed to miss the first snow fall in Chamonix town on Sunday. Even after more than 10 years in the mountains I still get that same excited feeling when I see the first proper snow fall after the long hot summer!

Having returned to Chamonix only late last night, I didn't want to waste any time and so myself and a couple of friends did an (almost) dawn raid before work up the Aiguille du Midi for a cheeky ski. Roger was late joining us so Emma and I headed off down the arĂȘte. It was windy and cold descending the steep knife-edged ridge so it was nice to get to the bottom and get our skis on. By this time Roger had caught us up and once we were all ready we headed off towards the Envers du Plan on the Vallee Blanche.

There had been at least half a meter of fresh snow but the top sections had been badly windblown. We all had some entertaining skiing for the first few turns including a quality head-plant from me! Thankfully we found a very good route past the first section of crevasses and headed on down some much better snow. The powder improved and with some whoops and shouts we all skied another 300m or so down to a flattish area close to the Gros Rognon. Here we decided we had skied the best of it and got ready to ski tour back up.

This was paying the piper and the price for the morning ski was a lung-busting skin back to the bottom of the arĂȘte. It is never easy going uphill at over 3000m altitude! Taking the line of least resistance we skinned back towards the classic Vallee Blanche route and joined some other skiers on their way back up from down past the Rognon.

The trip was also an opportunity to test the latest batch of kit from our sponsor, Berghaus. We've just received a new delivery of gloves and so I took with me their women’s 3in1 ski glove and can report they are wonderfully warm, cosy and comfy to wear!

The wind was still blowing hard in our faces as we climbed back up the ridge, past the 2 massive crevasses that are currently occupying the centre of the ridge...nice! Best not to look and just keep walking! After taking our skis off our rucksacks we were back in the cable car and down in Chamonix ready for lunch and an afternoon's work in the office!

Fingers crossed the snow will stick around and continue to fall through November and December and give us a great early season.

If you have not already booked your next exciting mountain adventure with us then check out our website www.mountaintracks.co.uk/winter for our selection of worldwide off piste and ski touring holidays and courses. Our winter brochure is also available in handy flip-book format - click here.

Here are some pictures of our mornings adventures!