The winter that keeps on giving – Part 1

I know for some back in the UK the extended cold spell hasn’t been all that welcome. But with record levels of snow across the Alps the ski season kicked off early to a frenzy of activity with accounts of ‘all time’ and ‘best ever’ conditions.  With winter continuing well into March this year I have been busy climbing and skiing some of the big classic routes in the Mont Blanc Massif in conditions that can only be described as incredible and perhaps ‘once in a life time’.

The following posts are some of my best adventures over the last two months.

The Marbree Couloir

With 2100 meters of sustained skiing against the backdrop of the Dent du Geant, the Marbree Couloir is one of those must do classic ski descents on the Italian side of the massif.  I have skied this quite a few times now but with the current conditions, we just kept going back for more!

It was cold boot-packing up from the top of the lift station (in the background). I had my down jacket on the whole way up keeping me nice and warm.

South West Couloir, Tour Ronde

I have had the La Tour Ronde  and Brenva Glacier ski in my tick list for a few years now but this route is not always possible and rarely in condition from top to bottom. With the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif seeing unprecedented levels of snow and sustained cold to keep conditions exceptional we knew we were in for a long ski from summit to road but, with a few days of wind and sun, we were unsure of the conditions that would ultimately predict how much fun we would have on the decent.  I don’t ski crusty snow well so I was a little nervous about what might greet us on the ski down.

The mixed climb up La Tour Ronde to get to the Brenva was a little tricky in places, especially with skis on our backs. But, once we were at the summit, the views across Italy meant the climb was worth every huff and puff.  From the ridge at the top of the climb we could see the snow conditions were looking pretty good. Rather than skiing the normal South West route we decided to take an untracked line to its left. This will probably go down as one of my all time favorite days.  With 2400 meters of untracked powder from top to bottom and not an inch of crust in sight I can confirm it doesn’t get much better than that!!!!

The start of the long skin up to La Tour Ronde from the top of the Hellbronner

Climbing the mixed line on La Tour Ronde

Getting through the tricky mixed section just below the summit ridge.  This is pretty easy climbing but made tricky with skis on the back

Finally making it to ridge 100m below the summit

First turns on the South West Couloir of La Tour Ronde before traversing over to the Brenva Glacier

The final section of the Brenva on beautiful cold powder in the shadow of the Peuterey and Mont Blanc