Cold Shoulder

Graham: Almost into the sunshine after a quick sidestep

Location: Aiguille du Midi
Snow: Mostly soft, come crusty
Weather: Bluebird, very cold in the shade

…So cold that we didn’t even make it to the Tacul Shoulder today, but I’m sticking with the post title.

A 7.45am start at the Midi station was perfect to get tokens for the second bin of the day but we ended up on first bins anyway.  After a windy walk down the arrete, a ski across from the Gros Rognon to Italian VB and then on towards the Periades Glacier my fingers were pretty numb and Graham was a bit scared he was going to get frostbitten toes again but we started up towards the Tacul wearing full layers anyway, warming up just a little.  Reaching the base of the final climb we saw no visible bootpack so really didn’t fancy post-holing up while freezing our toes even more in full shade, so we were happy to bail down and around for a mellow descent.

Trending right around the Tacul and taking a 5 minute sidestep up to a col which is one of the Tacul Shoulder exits we found pretty nice smooth snow on NW aspects and a little crust on the W facing right banks, but with only a handful of existing tracks the whole way down to the Mer de Glace we didn’t have to stray far from the obvious routes for a fun descent.  A little glacier jibbing made a nice end to the route and the James Bond track was running pretty well back to town.

Closing in on the Tacul with no sign of a bootpack and getting colder ...time to bail

Graham: Best snow of the day on N facing banks

Graham: Hometime in the sun

A Good Morning

Joel: Top of the couloir off the Pourrie

Location: Brevent
Snow: Slightly heavy, quite sluffy
Weather: Mostly sunny

A nice morning on Brevent today, up early to beat the holiday queues.  A quick skin to the Pourrie first, for slightly heavy & sluffy snow but nice and smooth in the couloir we took back towards the resort.  ENSA couloir next, after spotting only a few tracks going in and changing our original plan from the one to the right of it.  The entrance was the most filled-in I’ve ever seen it; nice to make turns straight in for a change.  Things got nasty and heavy lower down and the exit on old avi debris was no fun but still worth it for the turns at the top.

Joel: Good snow at the top of ENSA

Joel: OK skiing below ENSA where the snow was smooth

Plan

Graham: First pitch, first lap

Location: Plan de l’Aiguille
Snow: Shallow to moderate powder
Weather: Bluebird, cold

Still a little bit ill (slowly getting better) and with the holiday crowds upon us I wasn’t going to ski this week but glad I did today even just for two quick laps.  Not the deepest snow but lovely and smooth, with a bit of a scratchy exit but good cover all the way back to town.

Graham: Doesn't always smile when he's enjoying himself, but I think he is here

Graham: Putting the Plan's terrain to good use

Should have slashed this

Pourrie

Not the deepest snow, but good enough

Location: Aiguilles Rouges
Snow: Soft & powdery where untouched
Weather: Bluebird above the clouds

Just a quick one on the Pourrie this morning above the clouds.  My lungs were struggling with even the short climb but we still got up ahead of one other pair and a massive group of snowboarders, dropping in towards the Combes de Gliere & Lachenal in lightly tracked snow but it was pretty easy to find some nice soft untouched stashes all the way down.

Graham: Last part of the ascent

Not much effort to find some good snow

I’m Not Mad, Just Disappointed

View from the top of Le Tour's park

Location: Le Tour
Snow: Perfect pistes
Weather: Sunny but windy

I’m feeling a bit ill today after a nasty week of work, and still not too motivated to ski but thought I would head up to Le Tour for my first proper park laps in almost two years.

After a 100 day winter in 2009/2010 consisting of about 90% pure park days and going as far as I probably ever will with tricks I thought I was happy to leave the park alone and explore other aspects of skiing, but there’s something satisfyingly simple about a good park day that I do find myself missing.  Le Tour’s park was decent in 2015/2016 so I had high hopes of a fun day in there today with small kickers reported to be open, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

There are 4 or 5 small kickers and a couple of boxes to hit per lap but their sizes are a bit inconsistent and takeoffs not too well shaped.  Plus the drag lift wasn’t open meaning long, cold laps on the main chairlift.  Some bigger mounds have been pushed on the left side so hopefully those kickers shape up well before spring snow arrives.  Come on park crew, I know you can do it!

Pistes

Perfect pistes and fast skis; excellent

Location: Le Tour
Snow: Perfect firm pistes
Weather: Sun, increasing cloud & wind

Just a few sunny pistes today before the next storm arrives.  Excellent conditions on the pistes, not much traffic and the park is slowly taking shape.

Back on It (Again)

Scotty: Perfect pistes all to ourselves in the morning

Location: Les Contamines
Snow: Perfect pistes, some spring snow off-piste
Weather: Bluebird, warm

Not much skiing from me lately, despite the snow conditions improving somewhat and my workload decreasing.

Taking so long off skiing has driven my motivation to lows I never thought I’d see and I’ve found myself looking forward to summer more and more and really not feeling good in myself at all.  Realising a couple of days ago that a lack of skiing was most likely the cause of this I knew there was only one thing for it; forcing myself to get out on the hill even if conditions aren’t great, and my old pal Scotty’s trip to Chamonix couldn’t have come at a better time.

A really fun day at Les Contamines today mostly cruising pistes but also finding some nice spring snow late in the day, and good to catch up with a few of Scotty’s friends I know from our time in Canada and from his wedding.  More fun days coming up soon I hope, regardless of snow conditions.

Scotty: Finding a little late-afternoon spring snow

Back on It

Graham: Very nice shallow but smooth powder in the untracked areas

Location: Courmayeur
Snow: Mixed; shallow powder where untracked
Weather: Bluebird

My ski motivation has been at an all time low lately thanks to combination of holiday crowds, warm weather and lots of work but it was very nice to get back out today for a classic day in Italy.  The snow wasn’t the deepest and the tracked areas were pretty firm and chunky but it was easy to find some smooth untouched stashes in the trees and bowls.  Hopefully some more cold & snowy weather continuing into next week to let us make the most of the rest of January.

Graham: Good enough snow for some landings today

Graham: A little effort to find an untracked exit from the trees

Xmas Pistes

Keeping it oldschool today on the vintage skis

Location: Brevent/Flegere
Snow: Soft/spring snow pistes
Weather: Mostly sunny, warm

No new snow in a while but nice to get out for a few sunny piste laps today to celebrate Santa’s birthday, mostly on Flegere with fewer crowds than expected.

Graham: A better ski choice

Same Again Please

Getting low

Location: Plan de l’Aiguille
Snow: Deep powder
Weather: Mostly sunny

Two laps on the right side of the Plan again.  Very nice again.  I’m very busy with various work at the moment so I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Graham: Very fun drop to a perfect landing to start the second lap

I do like jumping over trees

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