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Eric + Ken skied Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m)
-- Craig started out with us, but he was still recovering from a
nasty stomach thing which hit him suddenly the day before, so he
turned back early. Starting from the Aiguille du Midi lift, we climbed
and skied the Northwest face. After making it
thru the steep-ish sections, actually we stopped when we reached the West end of the summit ridge
Two things especially
"interesting" that day were routefinding: the wind had blown over most of
the old tracks; and exposure: much of the snow was
hardpack from strong winds, and the north face drops off into an
icefall -- it doesn't show much in the photos, but we felt very conscious
of the consequences of a slip.
south to Mont Blanc du Tacul
from foot of Aiguille du Midi: in the sun is the northeast face (not skied
by us). To the right in the shade is the northwest face, that's our "north face"
tour: key goal is the right end of the gentle summit ridge, just
starting to get sun.
Snow dome above right is the "big one": Mont Blanc. Rocky ridge
obscuring the dome is Mont Maudit. On the left side of Mont Blanc du
Tacul, the dark tower is the Grand Capucin, and the triangular peak
to its left is the Tour Ronde. Broad snow low in front is Col du
Midi, see also the start of the so-called "Vallee
Blanche" ski descent highly-prized by thousands of downhill skiers.
Craig skiing across the Col du Midi under the Aiguille du Midi
Approaching the northwest
face, Craig with Eric beyond. Note the ice gully near right edge of
the rock triangle above Craig -- there were several parties of ice
climbers on that -- way more than the number of other skiers we saw
on the north face: (zero).
Eric climbing on skis above
the first steep-ish section, with the Aiguille du Midi and Aiguille
getting past our first big crevasse
breaking our own trail, surrounded by big ice structures -- and suspecting
that we're already off-route
switched to crampons again,
after checking out possible ways to keep climbing on skis -- see
tracks below. (Not far below the ski tracks, note steep drop-off
into unknown terrain between us and the green Chamonix valley.)
after some more
route-finding attempts, we made it to the summit ridge --
uninteresting in itself, but offered a view south to the next higher
peak: Mont Maudit. The snowy break halfway down the ridge is the way
of the "Three Mont Blancs" route to the highest dome, unseen. Looks
like a boot track up to the rimaye (bergshrund), which is often the
crux of that route. This time, we decided to just ski back down the
way we came.
Eric relaxing on one of the soft-snow sections of our descent.
and enjoying some turns down
to the bottom of the north face. After that we skied the normal
(so-called) "Vallee Blanche" run down to Montenvers and caught the
last train back to Chamonix
deleted scenes . . .
skier hanging on rappel from the Aiguille du Midi bridge - (? couloir de la
the great high peaks of
western Switzerland, on the horizon seen northeast from Aiguille du
Midi: in center is the Grand Combin, and I believe . .
. just over its right shoulder the Matterhorn, and on far right
horizon the Monte Rosa group. Skewed dark peak to left of Grand
Combin is the Dent Blanche, and just left of that the Weisshorn.