Monday, April 20, 2009

Midi North Face Ski Descents

New snow finally came to the Chamonix valley, so I've switched back to ski mode for the past few days. I had the pleasure to ski a couple lines on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi with Swedish ski badass, Andreas Fransson. After checking out the snowpack with a descent of the Ronde, we dropped into the North Face to ski the Eugster Couloir, which I had made a reconnaissance ascent of a couple days earlier. Even with three short rappels (15m, 30m, 10m), it was the most serious ski descent that I have done. Trying to keep up with Andreas didn't give me much time to take photos, but I did manage to snap a few:

Traversing onto the top of the North Face:

Andreas at the first, short rappel, just below where the Eugster and Mallory diverge:

Looking back up the lower portion of the Eugster couloir. Below this section were two small, but mandatory hucks:

Andreas at the Aiguille du Midi midstation, before heading back up for a solo descent of the Mallory route, in not so ideal conditions. The French guy to the right made three speed-riding descents of the North Face of the Col du Plan this day:

The next day Andreas made a solo ski descent of the West Couloir with the direct start from the North Face, and then I came up to join him for a descent of the North Face of the Col du Plan. The Col du Plan was much less serious than the Eugster - mostly powder skiing with one 60m rappel. However, in the exit couloir Andreas opted to huck a rocky constriction that I cautiously downclimbed. Upon landing, his ski popped off, and he fell into the rocky wall of the couloir, dislocating his shoulder, splitting open his eyebrow, and giving himself a concussion - Injuries are a bummer, but still it's quite impressive that he skied 4 lines on the North Face of the Midi in two days!