The complicated snowpack, especially wind at altitude, precludes skiing anywhere so for this episode of ChamLines Aurélien Ducroz opted for a line in the Aiguilles Rouges that he's had his eye on for some time. He's accompanied by Adrien Coirier from les Arcs (he won the American Pro Freeride Tour in 2006 and 2007) and with guide Brice Bouillanne.
Vallorcine at 6h30 am, the time we fixed skins to leave for 1500 meters of climbing. A hard wake up for us mere mortals, a mere warm up for Adrien Coirier who is fulfilling his new role as a freetourer
After 1h30 climbing through the woods we reached the Loriaz refuge where we checked out closely the line that interested us. A fantastic couloir of 700 meters and only 2 meters wide in places that cuts straight through the rock. The only fly in the ointment, the entrance didn't look very stable, we'd check it out.
After looking at the route it was getting warmer and warmer, we left for another 1h30 of climbing to the Col de la Terrasse refuge before crossing on foot, due to rocks to the couloir entrance.
Following are observations we took great care at the couloir entrance. After installing a dead-man the slope above the couloir finally seemed stable. It's a go. The four hours of struggle were replaced by 5 minutes of pleasure.
With 50 to 55° slope in a narrow couloir the first bit was committing especially as the snow was crusty. The bottom of the couloir was barred by rocky outcrops, we switched to a shoulder on the right. The snow was not great but the fantastic environment was worth it.
And to finishe the session in the best way we climbed to teh Loriaz refuge to eat, this third episode of the season was mythic for the beauty and purity fo the couloir which, it seems is a first descent.