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.

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