Monday, 7 April 2008

Happy Powder Days!

It's been one of the best spring ski seasons I can remember - the snow just never seems to stop coming. Yet another 20cm fell overnight last night, and it's still cold today. Crazy April weather, but really I should know by now - April's ALWAYS awesome. And to make it even better, the mountains are empty of tourists as the ski season's officially nearly over. But the touring's only just begun ...

Guy and I have just got back from the Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt on skis) with Mike, Kath and Susannah. Great company, good laughs, stunning views and 6 days skinning wasn't TOO much like hard work.Good training for Norway, and our fitness in general, and I was pleased to find it a lot easier than last year.

I love the whole huts adventure - it's just magic waking up in a mountain refuge in the middle of nowhere. You really feel like you've earned the 3 course meals they serve, and Swiss huts are so much better than the French ones.

Unfortunately we had to bail out of the penultimate day between the Dix and Vignette huts. It was -20, really windy, and with grim visibility - not the ideal place to be stuck on a glacier at 3800m. The forecast for the next day was looking crap too, so we opted to turn round and ski down to Arolla over the Pas de Chevre. Shame not to finish the journey, but we wouldn't have made it to Zermatt with the weather, and had a great powder day to make up for it.

We've also been skiing over in the 3 Valleys a couple of times, including nailing a lovely 400m couloir on the Aiguille du Fruit with Emma, more of the Toule Glacier steeps, as well as some mind blowing powder on the Aiguille de Midi (WOW!).

Our girlie day last week was fab ... headed back to the Rectaligne Couloir, which was in amazing conditiion. Perfect powder turns all the way down, as well as avoiding the biggest avalanche I've ever seen (skier's left of the Rectaligne). Fortunately by the time it happened, we were well away and watching the powder clouds from a distance. A pretty impressive spectacle and amazingly no one was caught. Makes you realise how small we are, though - especially watching one poor guy make a narrow escape being chased by the slide over the moraine. Luckily he made it up onto a ridge and out of harm's way just in time.

April looks set to be a great month with lots more touring on the cards. Guy and I are planning on heading to La Grave next week to check out the Southern Alps steeps. Plus there are lots of lines around Cham we've been vaguely eyeing up.

We went to check out a couple of couloirs near the Amethyste glacier yesterday - 2 hours skinning in baking sun and crusty snow, only to find that the routes we were originally thinking of had no absolutely snow in at all. Not what you need! But, not an entirely wasted effort as the classic Y couloir and another line on the Col de Passon both look in pretty good nick. Unfortunately we were too late in the day to give them a go (as well as just plain knackered from the Haute Route), but the ski down was actually great as the snow had softened up. Hopefully later in the week we'll be more psyched for it and get lucky again with the weather (as well as our arses in gear a bit earlier).

It looks like a gorgeous powder day today, but unfortuntately I'm sat inside nursing a sore knee - a silly twisty fall on the Haute Route followed by an over ambitious run yesterday means I'm hobbling around a bit. Clearly Chartreuse seemed a good option for curing my aches last night, so my head's not feeling too hot today either. But hopefully it will be all healed in time for next weekend's half marathon in Annecy!

1 comment:

Elusive1 said...

Hi Steph&Emma glad to hear your having lots of fun and enjoying life to the fullest in the mountains be nearly time for your mission hope all goes well and you raise lots of money for charity i really like the new photos on your blog looks stunningly beautiful my mate Dan mazur is out with a team climbing Everest at the moment you should check hes blog on best wishes lady's xo Mark