Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Glacier du Geant


Wednesday was a bit of a given: the day before had been a massive climb leaving us a little sore, and the weather was finally looking to be clear over the entire Alps after several days of snow. This meant that the Aiguille du Midi cable was going to be packed. Because of our conference, we couldn't hope to get first in line, and by the time we got there (and sorted out the fiasco that our hotel had made of lift passes), it was nearly 2 hours before we found ourselves plodding down the arete in the usual congo line. It was great to see the Refuge Grands Mulets (on top of the rock in the middle of the second photo), and my line down Mt Blanc from another perspective.
We steered hard right, around past Cosmiques Refuge, over the Col du Gros Rognon, and then all the way down through untracked soft snow to the start of the icefall at around 2800m. Jerome roped up to Derek (who was best placed to pull him out of any crevasse), and we slowly made our way back up to the Col de Rochefort, where we had some unbelievable views of the Alps to the east (Italy), and south as far as Le Meije. We could also see the mountain we'd climbed and skied the day before - on the telephoto it is even possible to see our tracks, and the avalanche that we started in the couloir.
We then continued skinning up to a rocky platform under the Dent Geant for a most panoramic lunch looking across to Mt Blanc. Morry was struggling with the altitude a bit, so we left him there and continued on up to the limit of the snow at around 3800m for a very satisfactory descent down through magical powder. Derek and I linked as many powder turns as possible, savouring every billowing pitch, whilst Jerome free-rode the entire thing in about three turns. Then on down under the crazy cliffs of La Noire besides seracs the size of buildings, and all the way down the right hand side of the Vallee Blanche, which neither Derek or Morry had done before (today was the first time Derek had literally set foot in Italy: too much time spent in the Himalayas...)
All in all a glorious day, with the result that far too many photos were taken...

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