Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Alpine Playground

I've returned for a few weeks to the ultimate alpine playground, Chamonix, to do some enjoyable skiing and climbing on the fantastic peaks here, and hopefully gain some fitness for the Alaska climbing season. Chamonix has experienced a really lean snow year, but there are always good things to do here.

I've been skiing and climbing a bunch with Norwegian friend Nils Nielsen, with whom I am also headed to Alaska soon. Our first day out was a nice tour up to the Passage d'Argentiere. In the background are the north faces of Les Courtes, Les Doites and Aiguille Verte. Photo by Nils.

Next up was a ski of the Glacier du Milieu on Aiguille d'Argentiere. We were joined by Swedish skier Morgan Sahlen. Nils and Morgan coming up the last bit of the Glacier du Mileu:

Nils, Morgan and myself on the summit of Aiguille d'Argentiere. Photo by Nils.

Morgan dropping in heavy and blowing shit up like a muthafuckin' powder gangsta. Photo by Nils.

A few days later Nils and I went to one of my favorite faces anywhere, the north face of Les Doites, to climb a combination of Le Ginat and the Messner Route. Looking up at the north face of Doites from below the base. Photo by Nils.

Nils crossing the bergschrund:

Myself low on the route. This section is the most commonly climbed start to Le Ginat, but is actually part of the Messner Route. Photo by Nils.

We simul-soloed to the top of the central ice field, and then climbed to the summit in three simul-climbing pitches. Myself on the first roped section. Photo by Nils.

Nils coming up to a belay shortly after diverging from Le Ginat. The camera tilt was not intentional!

Nils starting the second simul-climbing pitch.

Myself coming up to a belay. Photo by Nils.

Myself starting the third simul-climbing pitch, which took us to the summit of Les Doites. My two previous "climbs" of Le Ginat, like 95% of the "ascents" of Le Ginat, finished at the Breche des Doites and then bailed to the south side. It was nice, therefore, to finally take the line to it's logical conclusion on the summit of the mountain. Photo by Nils.

On the summit of Les Doites. Photo by Nils.

Nils checking out the descent down the south side, with Les Grandes Jorasses and Mont Blanc behind.

To return to our skis in the Argentiere basin we chose to climb over Les Courtes and downclimb the Northeast Face of Les Courtes. Nils coming up the West Ridge of Les Courtes:

On the summit of Les Courtes in the evening. Photo by Nils.

Starting down Les Courtes in the late evening. Photo by Nils.

Myself downclimbing the Northeast Face of Les Courtes, with Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille d'Argentiere behind. Nils, who claims he is "not so much the aggro, cocky type of mountain guide, but more like the metrosexual mountain guide," thought the evening light in this photo was romantic, and would help us score chicks. Photo by Nils.