Sunday, 30 June 2013

Dome de Polset

I had a most excellent day out yesterday with Roland who'd made a superb educated choice after my insistence on a ski descent the previous day in torrential rain. The frogs are quite set in their ways, which is mostly a good thing, but also odd on occasion when opportunity knocks. Most people are currently either on their bikes, or heading to the Mediterranean.
We had a rendezvous at Bozel at 0430 and were up past Pralongnon by 0500 where we parked at about 1900m. It was a five km walk to the snow-line which was skiable down to 2200m, but we didn't put our skins on until the Refuge Peclet Polset at 2400m. There was fresh snow down to 2500m. As things steepened, we put on crampons and roped up. Parts of the climb were out of my comfort zone, and the glacier once we topped at over 3000m was wind-iced and very slippery even with skins. The entire climb was a no-slip zone, so I was relieved to finally summit at around 10 a.m. at 3530m.
The Aiguille Polset is basically the summit of the Gebroulez Glacier, which is one of the largest in the Alps, running behind Val Thorens and Meribel. So the views were exceptional in every direction, highlighted by the Meije to the south and Mt Blanc massif to the north.
We took the classic ski descent as per the 1:25000 topo. The first 200m vertical was icy and delicate and we took it slowly to avoid becoming crevasse fodder. Then followed 1000m vertical of glorious hero corn before dropping a narrow and very steep sun-baked couloir down onto the apron leading back to the refuge. Roland remarked that it was one of his finer lines down the glacier, and definitely the latest.
The refuge itself was swarming with runners on the 66km Tour de Glaciers Vanoise (TGV!), which had been re-routed this year because of the snow. I'd just missed Kilian Jornet, which was probably just as well. In the context of my elevated mood and hero worship, I might have said or done something inappropriate.
Even more inappropriate was what transpired between myself and a marmot on the way back to the car. They evidently like the taste of salt.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


Having opened my Oz ski account this year in mid May, I was hoping for my first ever six-month southern hemisphere season. Whilst it was technically feasible to tick off June with a run down man-made snow on Bourke St or Big D, I didn't think this really qualified. 
NZ aside, perhaps the reason winter hasn't arrived in Australia yet is that it is stuck in Europe. Some of the recently cleared mountain passes have upwards of thirteen meters of snow, so there are still plenty of lines to be had in the Alps. Plenty of people thought I was a little loco bringing skis to the European summer, however my skis, bindings, boots, stocks, climbing harness and ski bag now come in under 6 kilograms, which is less than my wife's shoes. 
Despite a lot of recent rain, the couloirs around the Courchevel summit have held up well, and when I summited Saulire this morning (after 24 hours in cattle class with three wombats and my bloodstream still full of valium), it was snowing quite heavily. A thousand meters below it was raining heavily, and I got more drenched than the marmots I saw who at least had their burrows. The line down the main couloir off Saulire was on rain affected snow but not too bad for June in France.
I am hoping to climb and ski Mt Blanc in the next few days however at present the meteo isn't looking flash. Tomorrow I've lined up a guide to climb the Glacier Gebroulaz and ski some of the couloirs off the Dome Polset. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Prom 22-23 June 2013

We'd normally be hoping to get a few turns in this time of year, but with weather like this snow is a long way off the radar. After a big Friday night on the restaurant tram for Stu's birthday, we were a little under the weather Saturday morning, but still made it to mum and dad's for breaky with cousin Will. Then a quick stop at the Prahran Market for a truffle, which is another reason to love winter! Downed in front of the rugby that night with fresh pasta and quail eggs. Yum.
Did some work on the treehouse, a bit of gardening and got some quality deck-time.