Saturday, December 27, 2014

Early season eagerness

After a good season start, the last weeks have been pretty warm and dry. Lots of early season eagerness, boot-packing and extra motivation is needed to find some descent snow. Here are some shots from last weeks adventures. 

As I'm writing the first real winter storm has finally arrived to Les Marecottes. Can't wait to get on some easy lift accessed powder! 

Early Saturday morning in Zürich..what the hell I'm doing here...

Was it worth to wake up early? Sure it was! Dani, Peter and Thomas looking at endless opportunities on Pizzo Tambo North Face. 

Snow hunting at Val Ferret with Ville Niiranen

Samuel and Jeremie on a world record boot-pack at Mont Velan
Samuel on Glacier de Prox after about 1000 meter boot-pack..
If there would be snow..I would ski that!
Samuel all exited after 1200 meter boot-pack
Jeremie dropping to Italy..

With some extra effort Jeremie and Samuel making it look powdery.. 
Ville cruising towards Silsersee @Engadin
First turns of the season for Sami Modenius @Argentiere 
26.12. @Les Marecottes

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Back on the skis!

Season is definitely on in the Alps! I got back on the skis end of October at Aiguille du Midi. Snow conditions were so and so, but it was good to feel the winter again. Our trip to ski the Contamine Grisolle route was kind of survival skiing...but since then it's been snowing quite a bit and last three weeks have been really good! Here are some pics from Chamonix, Andermatt, Simplon and around Saint Bernard.

Niko Pettersson on the Midi Ridge

Climbing the Contamine Grisolle route
Beautiful day at Breithorn with Jeremie
Jeremie letting it go at Breithorn.
Walking the dog at Saint Bernard
Ville Niiranen @Andermatt
Henkka @Mont Velan Central Couloir
@Mont Velan ©Henri Kuokkanen
Henkka @Mont Velan Central Couloir

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Season end @ Contamine Negri

Great way to end the season with a quick visit to Aiguille du Midi. With the raising temperatures it had to be something quick and not too serious. The Contamine Negri route on the Triangle du Tacul was looking pretty white so I wanted to give it a try. Jeremie Heitz was motivated to join this quick adventure directly from a festival in Nyon. Young guys have some super powers I can't even imagine anymore...I could not even get out of bed after partying and couple hours of sleep..

The face was still showing lots of ice so we decided to climb and ski the direct steep couloir between the ice and rocks. We got really lucky with the conditions and at the end we got the ski this short, but adventurous line with nice spring powder. Thanks Jeremie for a super season end! So this was end of the season, but lets see when the next one starts. Maybe next week or will it be in Autumn?

Check more pics here

Contamine Negri 

It got pretty windy higher up..

First gentle turns

We were the only skiers up at Midi so got some extra attention

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two and half Finns on adventure at Dômes de Miage

For some reason the North Face of Dômes de Miage has't been high on my ski-mountaineering wish list. Even for this weather window there were several good options and Miage wasn't one of them until Andreas throw it on the table. After some calls back and forth we decided to give it a try. Henkka joined the crew and so two and half Finns were set for another adventure (me, Henkka and 1/2 of Andreas as his mother is Finnish ;-)).

We started our journey from La Gruvaz towards Plan Glacier refuge about 1600 meters higher. The mountains were testing our motivation as we hiked up in a pouring rain. As it was raining heavily our thoughts were already on next days mission. Will it be powder, too much snow, can we climb the face or should we climb along Mettrier Ridge? The face remained behind the clouds so we would need to wait for the morning to find it out.

Next morning we set of at 4.45 and were already climbing up the face about an hour later. Despite the heavy rain in the evening conditions confirmed good for climbing up the face directly. We had great conditions up to about 30 meters from the summit where we hit un-skiable ice. This is were we turned back and clicked on our skis. Within the last 300 vertical meters the face steepens steadily from 45° up to 55° making it a nice steep skiing exercise. The line is graded 5.3. by Toponeige, but we didn't find it that demanding. At least in such a good condition. After first careful turns we could let it go to enjoy some nice free-riding. We started skiing at around 9am, which approved to be good timing. At the end we could ski down to about 1650 meters. Great fun!

Thanks guys! Hyvä Suomi!

Check pics here.

@Plan Glacier Refuge

First rays of sun already high up the face

We hit unskiable icy section about 30 meters below the summit and clicked on our skis. ©Henri Kuokkanen

First careful turns

Andreas linking turns with mighty Mont Blanc West Face on the background.

@Henri Kuokkanen

End of season pose? 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Breithorn Triftjigrat

The Breithorn is considered as the easiest 4000 meter peak in the Alps. The normal route can be done in less than 1.5 hours from the lifts. Despite of that the north east face offers some really great steep skiing and what I've heard the line(s) are quite rarely skied. The last week was really windy and all original plans were dropped due to bad conditions. I still wanted to do something after bailing out several times in the last weeks. Triftjigrat did look pretty white and also winds had been more reasonable around Breithorn. So what the hell, lets give it a try!

We took the first bin up to Kleinmatterhorn and stood at the summit around 10.30. The main face was pretty much just blue ice but there was a skiable path leading past the icy section. Just to avoid any surprises we climbed some 100 meters down the face. It seemed all skiable so we decided to climb back up and to start our descent from the summit. Below the icy section we found really good snow. Middle section next to the hanging serac was un-skiable so we had to setup two raps. The conditions were quite varying, but at the end we got to ski most of the line in with good snow. Triftjigrat is a super beautiful line with steep sections, route finding, technical passages and lover down enough room for big free-ride turns. I'm really a big fan of adventure skiing like this. Good day out with Henkka!
Check out pics here.

Here's also a clip with Sam Anthamatten skiing the line in perfect conditions some years ago.

Breithorn Triftjigrat

On the top section

Rapping past ice middle section next to the serac zone

Henkka checking the way down to exit couloir 

Henkka below the seracs. 

Exit couloir with some good powder

Finding our way

It's beer a'clock! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mission Tour Noir South Ridge completed!

This has been a long-term project that got started some years ago. On 2008 I got to ski the North Face of Amone for the first time.  From Amone you get a good view of different lines on Tour Noir's South side. Since then I have kept my eye on this face.

Three years ago the face looked good when touring up to Grande Lui. Some days later we went exploring it close by. Unfortunately it took too much time to climb the route in deep snow and at the end we turned back half way up the ridge. On that occasion we spotted another line, which looked more skiable. Some weeks later I skied the line with Sami Haapasalmi. On that trip we were again taking close look at the South ridge. This time from above and in some pervert way it looked skiable. Of course that would need perfect snow conditions, but anyway.

Last year in April I got a perfect view of the line when skiing Mt. Dolent's Gallet ridge. South Ridge seemed to be in really good condition, but for some reason I was drawn into Chamonix circus for the rest of the season...

Long story short... Last week I saw some photos taken from Grande Lui and for a big surprise the snow conditions looked really good. Weather forecast had a short weather window for Saturday morning so I wanted to give it a try. Like usual it wasn't hard to convince Mikko to join. We decided to drop in directly from Col d'Argentiere as I knew the face from earlier trips.

In the Friday afternoon we went up to Grand Montets and continued to Argentiere Hut. After a long night of sleep we took a 6am start and reached point 3650m at Col d'Argentiere at 8.20am. After letting the snow soften a bit we started skiing around 9.30. This time everything worked as planned and we got to ski this beautiful line in perfect conditions. Skiing was actually really easy with pretty much perfect spring snow.

The line is 700 meters vertical, with some exposed steep 50/55° sections. All together you get 2000 meters of vertical to La Fouly. We got pretty lucky with the conditions and could ski almost the whole ridge. At the end we only had to use the rope once to get past 20 meters of unskiable terrain. Steep skiing is all about hitting the lines at right time. This time our timing was perfect and skiing was really a pleasure.

According to La Fouly locals this was probably a first ski descent. For me it was a perfect closure for this long project, which has brought along some really good adventures with good friends. 

More pics here.

South Ridge seen from Mt. Dolent's Gallet Ridge in April 2013.

We started from Argentiere Hut at 6am

Mikko skiing the upper part of the line with perfect spring snow.

Half way down the ridge

Some 20 meters of rope work to get back on the piste..

Careful turns ©Mikko Heimonen

La Fouly delivering on and off the hill! Kippis!
More pics here.