9 April 2023, Ski Mountaineering From Skyway Monte Bianco

After a rather dry start to the Chamonix ski touring season the snow volume is now much improved above 2000m and the conditions were near perfect for our ski mountaineering day tour from the Skyway Monte Bianco.

Touring around to the Col Rochefort in pristine shallow velvet powder snow, with Mont Blanc beyond.

Access to the glacier is now even easier than before as a new section of metal stairway has been added to compensate for the dropping level of the glacier and what was an increasingly awkward scramble down the ladder and icy slopes below.

The new section of metal stairway making the direct access to the glacier a lot easier than before.

It was immediately obvious that the snow had not been too effected by the recent winds and there were lovely fresh tracks to be had straight away down to the Col de Geant.

First few turns from the Skyway, a good start to the day and an indication of what was to come in the Combe Vierge.

As we toured round to a little breche on the French Italian Frontier on the Dent du Geant side of the Col Rochefort we saw plenty of teams heading up on to the Pointe Yeld heading for exacting steep descents on the other side which plunge down into the Periades Glacier basin.  Conditions were apparently ok for this steep and serious descent.

The bootpack approach to Pointe Yeld and the steep hard ski descents on its NE face down to the Glacier des Périades

Conditions were more than ok in the Combe Noir with pitch after pitch of glittering untracked velvet north facing powder snow.

Mint velvet snow in the Combe Noire. A spring powder ski par excellence.  Note the track traversing out of the Combe Noire into the crags above upper centre left of photo.

We skied down to the point of no return above the right hand exit to the Geant icefall and then did a semi demi tour to skin back up a lovely quiet Combe Vierge, which also had great snow.   Making our way over the Petit Flambeau in good conditions on the well snowy ridge we went to inspect the top of the Facette Nord.

A tight line of velvet snow between the ridge skiers right and icier / more exposed slopes skiers left. A pleasure to ski this little north face.

The exposed ice seen from the summit did not look promising but on closer inspection there was a lovely narrow strip of velvet powder between the North Ridge on the skiers right and icier / more exposed slopes skiers left.  The easier angled slopes lower down the ridge were a sheer pleasure to put tracks in and then the slightly steeper but very short lower face gave several very fun turns before joining the lower north Combe near La Vierge herself.

Rami enjoying several fun turns into the Combe of La Vierge with the fine North Ridge above right.

Despite the busy day on the Chamonix / Midi side of the Vallee Blanche it was quiet over here and we enjoyed a very tranquille push back up the slopes to the Skyway through more untracked smooth snow soaking up the fine spring weather.  Warm and sunny in the valley, but still very fresh and chilly in the mountains.

The return to Skyway via more pristine untracked snow, this time in ascent!

Although we turned around above the right hand exit to the Geant icefall today, we skied it earlier in the week in very good conditions on our group Vallee Blanche descent.   This is what Anita from that team said about that day:

« A brilliant day out on the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche combining a ski tour with a technical descent. Rob was safe, knowledgeable and fun. He pitched the day perfectly for the group’s capabilities. »

Our early April Ski Vallee Blanche guided team descent enjoying the wonderful spring ambiance in the upper Vallee Blanche.

There was lots of activity on the steep terrain around the Skyway with teams skiing the shoulder on the SE face of the Entreves and various couloirs descending in to the Toule Glacier.

The fine SE Face of the Aiguille d’Entreves with lots of tracks leading down in to the Toule Glacier

We didn’t see any teams climbing today but there has been some recent activity in the goulottes and mixed climbs from the Midi and Plan de l’Aiguille albeit with still relatively dry conditions although this may improve on some routes with more spring showers on the way.

Lead climbing training and coaching in Chamonix at the famous crag ‘Les Gaillands’

Some lovely sunny spring days in the valley have kicked of the Chamonix rock climbing season which now lasts well in to November usually so please do get in touch if you would like to do some climbing and training either on the valley crags or in the mountains as we head in to spring and summer.

All our spring ski touring & ski mountaineering Chamonix course places with one exception, see below, or give us a shout if we can help with private guiding for ski touring – mountaineering – rock climbing.

Thanks & good skiing – climbing – training, Rob

Ski Courses

Cruising the north facing powder on the north facing slopes above the Vallée Blanche.  Note the steep direct entry pitch to the Combe Noire behind.  This does not look at all good from above but did not look too bad from below!

Alpine Summer 2023 Mountaineering & Training Courses

Richard high on the South West Ridge of the Aletschhorn – High summer alpine mountaineering