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Thursday
Mar112010

Chamonix

Cathy and I arrived in Chamonix, France on February 13 and stayed through March 8. Of course we toured and skied a ton, but we also spent endless time figuring things out. These French Alps are super-accessible mountains, if you know the logistics. We'll be back soon, swaggering around like locals with our cigarettes and elite French mountain looks.  

First, I had to purchase a new swimsuit.

 

Then we toured for three gloriously clear and stable days–our best weather of the trip. Here Cathy has just skied down from the Col du Chardonnay on the Three Cols Tour. This is the first leg of the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.

 

Did you know Dr. Seuss was an avalanche consultant? His gas exploders are installed at the Grands Montets in Argentiere. Cathy is waiting for them to belch some avalanche retardant.  

 

The Alaska Range could use some hazard mitigation like this.

 

Side-slipping 150-meters of 50-degrees above rocks on the Col du Belvedere in the Aiguille Rouges.

 

 My first customer in France: John Scott from Truckee California in the Vallee Blanche. A half hour later the weather fully crapped out. We continued skinning and skiing in the whiteout and had the "most popular off-piste run in the world" to ourselves.

 

Cathy doing the global warming shuffle down to the Toule Glacier for knee-deep powder and lunch in Italy. 

 

We lingered a little too long with the Genepy during our mid-tour lunch above Courmayour. When we reached the top of the Hebroner Lift, our run down the Vallee Blanche to Chamonix was a raging ground blizzard. Instead of powder 8's, we snowplowed roped up, groping our way through the whiteout with me out front casting my cordelette for depth and crevasse perception. Funny how the Vallee Blanche is always deserted when we get there.

 

Amusing ourselves in the Mont Blanc tunnel from Chamonix to Courmayour. Dylan Taylor crammed two duffels, an 80-pound ski bag, 2 man purses, Cathy, myself, Meg, Mara and John Kear into his micro Pugeot for dinner in Italy. Then they dropped us off at the bus depot.