Colin and Bertie’s comments to the news story about the worlds longest ski vertical raises some questions about the ethics of skiing.
A classic example is the Couloir Couturier on the Aiguille Verte. The record books show that Serge Cachat Rosset made the first ski descent on the 1st August 1973 after being dropped at the summit by helicopter. Well not all the record books, some consider that Anselme Baud and Patrick Vallençant were the first true skiers 5 days later because they climbed on foot. Cachat-Rosset has been accused of cheating by “overtaking Vallencant and Baud” by unfair means.
Another ethical question is the use of ropes and sideslipping. The Col des Ecrins - the route to the summit of the Dome de Neige from la Berade, is rarely in condition to ski. Normally skiers abseil down and the more sensible use a 100m rope and don’t ski a small face above a step due to the danger if you fall. With two deaths on skis last season this seems to be accepted. Not so acceptable is abseiling routes that would normally be skiable.
Sideslipping is another point of argument. The number of times we’ve come across routes, particuarly couloirs, that should be skiable, even in the conditions, but have been transformed into a series of icy steps by sideslippers. But we’ve been there ourselves. In May we misjudged the conditions in the north west couloir of the Aiguille d’Olle. A couple of days before it had been powder but this had been skied and had then refrozen. We had hoped with would soften by midday but a cold north wind kept it hard. Nothing for it but to sideslip the couloir or risk a fall on the corrugations. Yes we descended the route but we can’t really say that we skied it.