Monday, May 25, 2015

Tacul North East Face

I have tried to ski the NE Face of Tacul several times, but until now only managed to ski it partly. This time everything worked out and we managed to ski it from the very top. Dropping in from the top next to Jäger Couloir adds up quite a bit of character to this line. Thanks Mikko and Jesper for good fun!

I started the season on this face in October so maybe this was a good way to finish it. But you never know...

Tacul NE-Face
Jesper on a little crux under the serac 

Looking down after the crux

Steep toc section  

Dropping in to a ridge between Jäger Couloir and Tacul NE Face

This cornice is HUGE!

Good spring snow on the face

Back to Aiguille du Midi

Good day!

It looks like season under the cables is pretty much over...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lötschental Breithorn South-West Face

Early March this year I was ski-touring at Lötschental and got really inspired by this beautiful face. By that time tricky conditions didn't allow to give it a try, but since then I was focused to ski it as soon as the right window opens.

On friday the 15th May conditions looked perfect. But I just arrived back from Rio de Janeiro the day before and was feeling pretty tired. As a bonus I brought along a stomach bug making me even weaker.. But the conditions and weather forecast looked too good to miss this opportunity. So I called Mikko in Chamonix and he was motivated to join next morning with Jesper Pettersson. We had a really long 2000 meter day ahead of us so we met 3am at Martigny. So lets see how diarrhea and partying at sea level with plenty of Caipirinhas work as preparation...

After arriving to Fafleralp we started hiking up the Innerstal at 5am. I still had some serious stomach issues, but looking at the line in front of us made me going. After 6 hours of hard work we made it to the summit. The face was really icy so we decided to wait for another hour to let it soften a bit.

We started our descent at around 12.30. After skiing the upper snow field the West facing main couloir was still icy. So we traversed to ski a line in middle of face, which had been baking in the sun already couple hours. On the way up I already climbed most of line so we knew there's a way through. This was a good call and we got the ski the face with some nice spring snow.

In 2008 and 2009 Remy Lecluse skied several first descent in the Bernese Oberland. The SW Face of Breithorn was one of them. Remy wrote that the line reminded a lot of the Whymper Couloir on the Aiguille Verte. I totally agree, but as a bonus this line is longer and can be skied basically from the summit. I'm thankful for Remy for the inspiration!

We started at 5 from parking at Fafleralp

Mikko and Jesper climbing up the main couloir while I was checking other descent options on the face. 

Steep section below the crux to reach the upper snow field leading to summut

Just above the crux  

Upper snow field was maybe 45 degrees

The summit ridge

Great views down to Lauterbrunnen valley with Eiger and Jungfrau towering behind

Great corn snow below the summit at 1pm

Mikko making final turns before the crux. 

Steep section after the crux

We found a nice steep hidden couloir proving the access to face proper 

Mikko skiing with ice axe?!? 

Some route finding between steep icy sections

It ain't over til its over ;-) 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Going deep on the steeps

Before the last storm we managed to get some nice skiing done at Argentiere with Jeremie Heitz.

Arriving to the parking we were psyched about our plan to try a bigger line I haven't skied at the Basin. Last storm brought some sticky snow on the steeps and there was supposed to be a short weather window to nail it. We were top motivated to use it to the maximum!

But like often this year the weather started playing games again. As we got up to top of Grands Montets wind was picking up and clouds were gathering around the Argentiere summits. I was very disappointed, but it didn't look too promising to climb and ski a big line. To get something done we went for our plan B to ski the Chevalier.

So we climbed up to Petite Verte in really deep snow to check the Chevalier Couloir. As expected it was in good condition with lots of fresh powder. Actually this was the first time I got to ski this nice line from the top with just couple meters of side stepping. Good warm up!

After powder blast in the Chevalier we decided to climb up the neighbouring Gigord if only possible with such a deep snow. It was damn hard work swimming up the couloir in waist deep powder. With Jeremie as trail braking master we made it to the top and got to enjoy our deepest steep descent of the year. Good times, even-though we had to change our plans again. Can't really complain too much after skiing two nice steep lines with perfect powder ;-) Thanks again Jeremie!

First view down to Chevalier
Jeremie doing the hard work

Top section of Chevalier

Top section of Chevalier

Testing the snow after the little crux

Couple gentle turn....

...and then full gas... 

Gigord Couloir

Looking for some new variations

Only shot I managed to take of the descent

@Grands Montets

@Grands Montets