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!