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Winter 13/14

20/05/2014



First of all, apologies for not blogging this winter - I was either too tired or too lazy (mostly the latter). So now I'm in the inter-season I thought I would try and summarise the season.

In brief, yet another great Chamonix winter. After a shaky start, with low snowfall, and a dangerous snowpack (see my article here for more details: http://www.avalancheacademy.com/news.asp?nid=38) things began improving in January. By late January the snow was excellent, and it hardly stopped snowing until the end of February. Powder conditions were simply fantastic.

I was mostly working off-piste skiing around Chamonix, but also did quite a few avalanche safety courses and Crevasse Rescue courses. Anyone interested in any of these next season, just take a look at http://www.avalancheacademy.com

Once March arrived the sun finally came out and shone for 3 weeks solid. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the lift-accessed skiing was rapidly skied out. While some preferred to sit in bars and grumble, others went touring and were still able to find powder. After 2 weeks, the sunny aspects had turned to Spring snow and there was great skiing everywhere again ! Needless to say, when the snow returned it did so on a massive scale - unfortunately I was on a Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route and this meant that I had a huge amount of trail-breaking to do, hard navigation and general suffering !!

April was a classic touring month, with trips to the Vanoise, the Haute Route and the Italian side of the Monte Rosa. Weather was very mixed, so results varied enormously from trip to trip. For me, the highlight of the month was a descent of Mont Blanc's North Face. After a very short acclimatisation period we set off from the Grand Mulet refuge. The weather could not have been better and it almost felt like a summer day on the summit. Despite skiing Mt Blanc 5 times previously I had never skied the North Face as it is so rarely in condition. However on this day it was perfect. the slope average 35 degrees, and the powder was almost waist deep - for almost 2000m we skied incredible powder before the snow turned to Springs. It was without a doubt the best day of skiing of the whole season.

So now it's inter-season. I'm busy visiting friends and relatives, and am getting ready for the summer. Days out cragging on warm rock feel like heaven. My summer work diary is almost full, but I do have some slots left in June if anyone is keen. And I promise to try and keep the blog up to date over the summer.


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