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Aiguille du Grand Fond / Col d’Arpire
Posted: 23 May 2007 05:41 PM  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

As the last dregs drain out of the half empty cup that was the 2007 ski season I managed to motivate Luc and la Sylv’ for one last trip, well one last trip unless we do another last trip. After a storming 2006 season Sylv had been ill this year, at one point unable to get out of bed. I know the feeling. However two months of intensive swimming had tranformed this Brontesque waif into Madamoiselle Muscles. Still she was firm “portage, non non non”.

So we had to ski directly from the car. In this globally toasted year that was going to be difficult towards the dog days of May. Even at the Galibier there was 100 vertical meters of portage.

I had one idea, the Cormet de Roselend between Albertville and Moutiers. This 1950 road pass is in the prodigously snowy pre-alpes. The area gets pumelled by atlantic low pressure systems harder than someone doing 10 rounds with Rocky.

Howzat for ski from the car, missy

As we got out of the car the previous day’s storm was just clearing. Wednesday morning seen an end of season powerfeast but of course no-one had thought to take photos. We were hoping for more of the same today while keeping a weather eye open for the avy rsk.


This is the second half of May and the valley is still full of snow. You’d have thought someone would have had the bright idea of putting a lift in then we could have skied into the early summer like the septics.


Our aim was the Aiguille du Gd Fond, in particular its n/w couloir at the end of the vallon d’apine.


this slope is about 300m, from 2500 m to 2800 and angled at a fairly reasonable 40 degrees.

the couloir, well not today. The rain had overloaded the poorly bonded fresh snow and brought down almost every slope over 30 degrees, and even some a lot less steep. Our couloir was down to a hard icy base but that wasn’t all.

Mont Blanc in the background

Near to the summit there was about 100 meters climbing (or descent) over marginally bonded snow or a snow slab waiting to come down under the weight of a skier.


Not worth tempting the devil for what would at best be poor skiing. We decided to head to the pass just left of the Aiguille.

Backup plan

This took us over 25-30 degree slopes but even here the humid snow was poorly bonded and liable to slide so we decided on good group spacing.

la Sylv was not at all impressed with all the shenanigans but was just pleased to be back in the real mountain again


although one of her climbing skis blew away at the summit - lucky we just had to ski down.

Luc should advertise Movement “Pomme Rouge” skis!


The ski down was on powder completely saturated with water - kind of acquapow.

Note avy path, left

but not altogether unpleasant. Imagine those ski yoghurt ads from the 1970s and you get an idea of the texture.

Luc was on his telemark skis. I don’t know if this is how it is done


and neither does Luc as this was his first time telemark touring and he’s hardly done any on piste. Une courbe d’apprentissage accelere as they say.