So Liz and I (well, mainly Liz) formulated a plan of a ski tour…
Having only ever used my new set up on a skin track in awful conditions with no ski crampons and knowing we were heading out over glaciers, I was a little bit nervous, mainly excited but there was some apprehension to say the least.
The week previously I had done a days Crevasse rescue course, which by no means makes me an expert, but having bought the gear I felt well equipped enough to undertake our mini-mission.
Liz had already booked the hut and we kept an on the weather which stayed stable as the time approached.
As we had never actually skied together before, we decided we should head up and practise some rescue/search and find techniques before we embarked on our little escapade.
Up at Grands Montets we fell around in the snow for a few hours building anchors and belays and such until we could laugh no more, before a sketchy fogged out run back down to the car.
So on Tuesday, the weather in town was pretty naff, but the webcam on the Midi looked great. So around 2.30 we got on the lift with the day trippers and tourists and headed up. The second lift finally cleared the cloud line to a whoop of joy in the lift and we smiled to ourselves.
Practically running off the lift, we geared ourselves up for the walk down the arete.
With the cloud inversion below us like a blanket of marshmallows, we stood in awe of the peaks around us and with no one above us, and no one below us, we were not in a rush to move.
Work, social, and otherwise, humans seem to constantly be on their way to somewhere or other rushing around without ever stopping to check their surroundings (myself included) but when I am in the mountains time stands stills and nothing else matters.
After we got our skis on and we were roped up, we started skinning across towards tomorrows goal to have a look at what seemed possible.
We reached the hut at around five thirty to find we had the whole place to ourselves, so naturally we took up half of the kit room hanging everything up, and once we got into our room we went down for a drink.
After watching the sunset (and trying not to freeze whilst getting a photo or ten) we had a private dinner for two before realising after all, that you really can’t sleep at altitude.
05:30 rolled round after what felt like an eternity and we kept looking out of the window before hauling our arses out of bed to watch the sun rise.
Having been told the night before that 70/90km an hour winds were expected at 4000m, we decided to wait until the weather report came out at 8am and see what may happen.
With the good news in, and the midi open first thing, we set off just before 9am with Col d’Entreves in our sights.
Skiing down wind blown powder, stopping to take in the view with very few people around us, we started a leisurely pace, winding up through a few crevasses, occasionally batter by random gusts of wind, whilst baking in the glaring sunlight before coming to the start of the first major climb to the col.
After a quick evaluation of the lack of tracks up, or down we decided it might be safer to up to the helbronner. Making Liz break track after I ended up carrying both ropes yesterday, whilst watching some beginner off piste skiers come down from the helbronner we packed away our skins and began our way back down to Chamonix via the Vallee Blanche…