Michelle Blaydon – Happy New Year!

The start of Jan was all about catching up with friends for some mellowish ski tours back in the Chamonix Valley, and at the same time taking the opportunity to look around the mountains and  check out the snow conditions to start to plan some ski adventures for the month

We missed much of the powder fun seen in early December, but with some good open weather windows at the start of Jan we were able to get some good ski mountaineering adventures in on some of the higher mountain routes normally only reserved for later in the season………

The Glacier de Mort (2700m) Aiguilles Rouge

Climbing up the Ridgeline before dropping off the back to Ski the soft powder snow often found on the Glacier


New Years Day Italian Ski Adventure: Skiing the Petit Face Sud, Dent De Geant and finished with a BIG Pizza.

I always like skiing over in Italy as you can start the day with a lovely Italian Coffee at the café by the lift station and finish the day with delicious pasta or pizza in the local villages.

The climb up the ridge to the start of the ski route was pretty hard being the first of the season at altitude.  The depth of the snow up the ridge also made it tough going. With a relatively steep decent and variable and involved snow conditions we were pretty tried by the time we ended up back at the carpark.

And later back in town, feeling tired and hungry, we ordered pizzas in The Tunnel restaurant – famous for serving the biggest pizzas I have ever seen

Switzerland. Col De La Dent Jaune. Northwest Couloir (3004)

We have been talking about touring and skiing some lines over this mountain for a couple of years now but never got around to it.  So with Chamonix crowded during the holiday period we decided to seek some space and solitude in the beautiful Chablais region.

We started our ski adventure from the picturesque ski resort of Marrecottes, Switzerland, and skinned 1300m to the Dent du Midi hut where we cooked up some well-needed food and rest for the night.  The following morning we hiked the short way to the Col for the beautiful ski down through the atmospheric Northwest Couloir.  This is a beautiful ski tour with really varied terrain and skiing. With the snow line still really high the walk down to the nearest train station was long and complicated in places, especially in ski boots, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of reward when we looked back at the impressively beautiful mountain where we had just skied from.

Angry Birds team on Tour; Le Col De Beugeant, Aiguilles Rouge, Chamonix

I always love meeting up with the girls (no boys allowed!!!) and heading out into the mountains.  This was a fab day catching up with friends I had not seen for a while so lots of stopping to talk and gossip was done….the boys definitely would not have enjoyed it.  My friend Betony has just moved the valley so it was a great chance to take her on one of the best short tours in the valley that offers an introduction to ski mountaineering.

The other side always offers interesting and varied terrain to ski down and (almost) always, cold soft snow

My first ever Rando Race

My Good friend Leanne Callaghan is one of Britain’s best female mountaineers and also happens to be on the British team for Ski Alpinism racing.  As this sport does not really exist in the UK, Leanne is often over in the Alps racing and training which gives me the perfect opportunity to catch up with her for a ski when she is in town.  January saw Leanne pop into the area for some training and to compete in some of the French international events.  Over an Apres ski Coffee, Leanne managed to talk me into trying a small team event that was to take place in Chamonix.

I have to say I was a little more than terrified when I turned up to find it was a little more serious than just a little local event and found myself standing next to some of the best racers in the world….yikes!!! I am also not sure swapping my fat skis for the first time in a race to the matchsticks used in this sport was the best idea I have ever had. With only a little warm-up allowed to get used the skinny kit, I decided that I would try to push really hard on the up hill sections to make up time for my sheepish and careful descents. My tactics paid off and with an amazing teammate, Leanne and myself found ourselves winners of our female category.  Not bad for the first try – not sure I am ready to give up my fat skis yet though!!!

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