Thursday 24 March 2011

Aiguille du Chardonnet – West couloir

Today I had a little solo mission to ski one of the first routes I lay my eyes upon when I first came to Chamonix years ago – The west couloir on Aiguille du Chardonnet. Its one of those routes that one can see from Argentiere as well as the Grand Montets skiarea. But the direct version is still very rarely skied and it has a reputation of never being in good condition.

The West couloir on Aiguille du Chardonnet

As Im just back from Sweden and wanted to get a good workout and get acclimatised without to much objective dangers it felt like a good option, specially when going alone.

I was abit slow in the morning and only made it up with the third or fourth bin, but after traversing the glacier I was in front of the mornig race. I climbed the south couloir and joined the last part of the classic Forbes arête before I stood at the start of the West couloir. It was lots of snow in the south couloir and  I was swimming in the snow making the track and in the end when putting my skis on I got joined on the summit by two frensh boys. I waited for them to get ready and then we skied the first half of the decent together with them before they left me alone for the direct finnish. The snow was great and about 15-20 cm deep, but with a hard layer underneath helping you to keep the concentration level up. In the last couloir I first used the rope to get over a small rockband and then skied all the way down to the finishing goulotte in one go. There I did three short sheltered rappels on the side of the couloir and then got back again finishing with a jump over the shrund. A few hundred vertical meters of good spring skiing awaited me here before I got down to the glacier and skied back down to town.

It was a good day up on the mountain with fun skiing and a worthy workout… 

Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille Argentiere seen from the Argentiere glacier

The south couloir

The south couloir seen from the top

Forbes arete

And again

And again

The summit

New friends

The famous traverse

At the start of the direct finish

A weird track

Another friend

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