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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 at 4080m.

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 Verte beyond
 

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 passerelle ?)
 

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.
 


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