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Winter Mountaineering Advanced March 2014

Posted on: March 14, 2014

This week, an Advanced Winter Alpine Climbing Course with two awesome guys.

The decision was taken to temporarily escape the bad Chamonix conditions and spent two days climbing the ice in Cogne,Val d' Aosta.

It snowed a lot in this part of Italy, and it keeps the avalanche risk high - 4 on a scale of 5. After a warm-up pitch on the classic Cascade Lillaz , we headed to the main icefall "LAU BIJ " which - unusually - was formed this year. The first pitch was slow ; but it was a worm up for both their arms and their minds. Come on guys I do not blame you , this is the first day !

Tuesday. The snow keeps falling. Huge avalanches have been falling for the last 3 days, so we are moving cautiously through the valley of Vanontey , to the waterfall " PATRI ." As we were getting closer,  the skys cleared out.  We were entierly alone in this magical land, which is very rare. This area is usually filled by ice climbers from around the world seeking a good ice conditions ... A good hour and a half later, after fighting our way through the deep snow – waist deep at place -  we started the first pitches, reassured as we left some huge snow slides down bellow and so there was nothing going to fall on top of us… We had the rare oportunity to climb both exit variants of Patri de Droite  - a beautiful Grade 5, which this time was no longer giving fear to my two companions. Great day that ended with pizzas in the car – class ! The pizza is very convenient to eat while driving, except when the person in charge orders .... the " calzone " ..Miguel, Bravo!

Back in Chamonix,  the program of the rest of the week started with the classic "La Pépite " on Grands Montets – this route is very convenient when there is lot of fresh snow.

Then for the last 2 days we decided to head off to Aiguille du Midi.  Since Kevin has already climbed the two routes i had in my mind; Perroux Profit  and  Burnier Vogler, i decided to climb  the Vent du Dragon. I 've climbed this route last week with the famous Megumi. I sensed a bit of stress during the first rappel from the platform of the Aiguille du Midi station where a big crowd was wathing us. I felt the rope becoming heavier and tighter at the "M5" section …I felt the rope coming up more slowly than usual at the final section of the Cosmiques Ridge – the fatigue was to be expected.

Friday – the last day -  we got up with the sun at 5am (Kevin has a transfer to Geneva airport at 16h - not to be missed !)  and started the last climb of the week ; the Goulotte Pélissier on the Pointes Lachenal . A few pitches of nice mixed climbing followed by 200m on a mellow snow slope. But, as it was the whole week, we had to fight the whole approach and descent through a knee deep snow. The snowshoes were not working for us.

Debriefing of the week was on the sunny terrace of the Chambre 9 bar over one last little beer. Everyone was well tired  but happy with the feeling of well productive week.

Thank you guys, we had a good laugh and you were brave in difficult times!

Miguel " mi amigo del alma "

I forgive you for your level of skiing which has made me to take the heartbreaking decision to use these damned snowshoes to hike up the ridge back to the Aiguille du Midi station instead of returning to Chamonix by riding the powder down the Vallee Blanche J

Sebastien Corret

IFMGA Guide , Chamex

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Advanced Winter Mountaineering Course Chamonix