On March 10, after two weeks of work with the Norwegian military academy, I was back in Chamonix. I was excited to start with two weeks of skiing and climbing with friends before starting the Haute Route season. The first week the weather was not the best – warm foehn wind and some snow so we ended up with skiing and climbing at the gym in Les Houches. On the 15, Colin Haley arrived, our plan was to climb and ski as much as possible together to get fit for our upcoming Alaska trip in May/June.
After some snowfall we started with some skitouring in the Argentier basin. The best day was definately skiing the normal route (west) on Aiguille d’ Argentier with Colin and Morgan Sahlen on March 20. Some days later we tried to climb the Frendo Spur in the north face of Midi, but bailed low on the route after battling with some of the worst snow conditions any of us had ever experienced – we couldn’t even get up to the steeper part of the route.
On March 23, we climbed the north face of Les Droites starting from the first lift. Last year we climbed Le Ginat together, but now we wanted to climb something that would take us to the top of the mountain, not just to the Breche des Droites. We did the Messner Route and like the other two times we climbed Les Droites we “descended” by climbing the west ridge of Le Courtes and down the northeast to our skis in the Argentier basin. We found a much better way down Droites than earlier and did not loose to much elevation before going up the west ridge of Courtes. And I think that this is by far the easiest way to get off the mountain, specially when it’s a lot of snow and as long as you don’t climb with your skis on the pack, which is no fun anyway.
On the 25, we climbed the Coutrier on Aiguille Verte – one of my favorite summits in the Alpes. We hoped to ski the Whymper on the south side, but conditions were really bad. Colin took a few turns while I did’t even take on my skis in the couloir.
The next day I started guiding Haute Route from Chamonix to Saas Fee. One week of mostly good weather, but not so good snow. We did the normal Verbier variant but never got to Saas Fee. The last day we had a ski tour in Zermatt.
Back in Chamonix, after one day of rest, Colin and me had a mellow day in the Argentier basin by simul-soloing the Swiss route on Les Courtes. Both of us had soloed the route before, but now we could both enjoy the freedom of climbing without a rope and the fun of climbing with a partner. The route was in perfect condition and the climb took us around 2 hours from bergschround to summit. As usual, we down climbed the northeast back to our skis and were back in Chamonix in early afternoon. Another perfect day in the mountains.
There’s been mostly good weather since and we been climbing a lot, but more about that later.
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