Sunday, March 30, 2014

10th round technical knockout & Miage Mission vol.2

After couple of weeks without much skiing I was fully motivated to get back to the mountains. Finally we got some fresh snow after a long sunny high pressure period. With 30cm of new snow there could be some really good skiing waiting. Just a short call to Mikko and we were all set for new adventures.

Our first target was a rarely skied line at Les Droites. We skinned up to the Couvercle hut fully motivated and exited about our objective. We started around 5 from the hut and everything went as planned until about 150 meters below the summit where we got stuck. We pushed several different alternative routes to get past some tricky snowless slabs. After three hours of desperate route finding we decided to turn back. Maybe it was the lack of snow, clock ticking too fast or our alpine climbing skills, but nobody can't blame we didn't try... Although we didn't ski the line from the summit, it was still one great steep skiing adventure. We got to ski some interesting steep sections with perfect snow. But despite of excellent skiing it was still a bitter disappointment after all our efforts. We'll be back. Pics here.

Ben Briggs & Brendan O'Sullivan on a mission

Mikko pushing it on the slabs

Mikko on one of the steepest sections of the face

Finding our way back to the exit couloir

Petit Mont Blanc Face NE

Despite our failure at Droites we were still motivated to try out something new the following day. From several options we decided to go explore conditions at Miage basin. We took it quite easy by starting from Courmayer lifts around nine. As we got to the base of the first couloirs the conditions looked damn good and all the couloirs were untracked. We went for the first couloir on the alley. Actually we didn't have any idea about the line, but it looked like it might go through. Later I found out from Davide Capozzi that this was the NE-Face, which was first descended 2011 by Davide and Julien Herry.

We got lucky and found the line in perfect powder conditions. At the end we skied it down in a few minutes without any technical difficulties. That was more free-riding than steep skiing. What a line! Pics here.

Petit Mont Blanc couloir alley - during the weekend we skied two lines on the left and one on the right. 

Heta and Mikko on the Miage Glacier

Mikko approaching the NE Face

On the exit couloir

It took about 5 minutes to ski down this beautiful 700 meter line

Petit Mont Blanc - Couloir Bonatti

After skiing in such perfect conditions you want more! So next morning we wanted to get back for some more and if possible even two lines. For Finnish flat-landers skinning up to the glacier and climbing up two big lines is not really an option. Thanks to Luca Rolli we managed to get a early lift to Bonatti Couloir. The Bonatti was a quick early morning warmup together with Luca. Conditions hard at the top, but after one third down really nice powder. Freeride!  Pics here.

This time it didn't take that long to reach the couloir...

Luca and Mikko rapping down to Bonatti

First steepish turns with some nice wind packed snow

Tête Carrêe - Couloir NE

We continued from Bonatti towards Tete Carree East Couloir. This line turned out to be the most beautiful of all the lines I've skied along the couloir alley. The first 200 meters or so were pretty steep and icy so we had to put in some careful turns. After top section we could let it go with bigger freeride turns. Pics here.

Hard work climbing up deep and sticky snow on Tete Carree

It took three and half hours to reach the top

Mikko dropping in

Careful turns on the top section

This is Italy! Love it!

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