After a well-earned day off it was time to ski. While there had been a terrible foehn blowing in Chamonix, on the other side of the range in Italy it had been snowing, so we decided to head through the tunnel to check it out. The scenes at either end of the tunnel could not have been more contrasting – Chamonix was mild, windy & bleak whereas in Courmayeur the sun was shining and there was fresh snow on the trees.
So we made our way up the Helbronner, and as usual I was particularly struck with the scenery and started taking photos:
Instead of descending the staircase we opted to ski the couloir. I’m not sure this was the best decision, but the stairs aren’t such a fun option either. As the Glacier de Toule is on the sunny side of Mont Blanc, the previous sunny days it had been a corn/slush fest – when we were heading up the cable car to ski the Marbrées we could see skiers carving trenches in the soft snow.
So predictably all that had turned rock hard, with a little fresh snow on topwhich made the Couloir a somewhat uncomfortable proposition. As well as being so firm the snow was quite uneven so it was rattling everything loose:
But before long we had descended it safely and it was time to traverse into the pow. The sun was quickly warming up and the pow was turning, so it wasn’t particularly light and dry, but to be honest given the state of the snow underneath the increased density was actually welcomed:
We soon reached the Pavillion, and decided that another run of ‘dust on crust’ wasn’t what we needed, so we went down the cable car and headed to the North facing slopes of Courmayeur. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones with that idea:
While all this was happening cloud had built up and the visibility dropped. Despite all the powderhounds in the lineup for the cable car, Jerome spotted a couloir below that was totally unskied, which we could not believe. After some sideslipping to get in, our Buller fog skiing skills were brought to the fore and we enjoyed some nice steep untracked powder. Here’s some turns below the couloir:
But as we got lower the dust on crust turned to glop on crust, but we headed up again anyway and skied a big top-to-bottom run on the north face. We had done a similar line last year and were rewarded with amazing views of Mont Blanc, but it wasn’t to be today. We were however greeted with the same push along a forest road to the lift:
After a pretty long day we convinced one of the restaurants at Col Checrouit to make us a pizza and we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon there: