This year’s “Lines above Chamonix” programme came to an end this Saturday. We enjoyed three weeks of skiing with three different groups, all equally enthusiastic. Each group had at least two or three perfect days – blue skies, sunny and at least 30cm of fresh powder.
We did many runs in the Pas de Chevre area beneath the Dru, finding completely untouched slopes there, or being just the second party to ski our line. It snowed almost every day and we didn’t have to skin to find untracked snow, so we just used lifts, which is easier and makes it possible to ski more runs in the same day. Of course we also skied the Vallee Blanche and its numerous variants. On more than one occasion we skied both runs in the same day: Pas de Chevre in the morning, followed by Vallee Blanche later in the day. If it hadn’t snowed for more than two days, we skinned (but never more than two hours) to get deeper into the backcountry, skiing under the Dent du Geant and from the Col du Passon.
It’s true that Italians are known for great coffee, but here’s my tip for the best morning brew in Chamonix: take the first tram to Grandes Montets and ski one of the couloirs beneath the Dru, before stopping at the Les Rochers des Mottets hut. Trust me, the coffee tastes so much better when you're sitting in front of this lovely hut, looking at the line you just skied beneath the imposing rock faces, and wondering whether or not you might be dreaming. That was my farewell to the high mountains of Cham on Thursday.
It snowed on Friday, but that didn’t stop us from skiing from the Aiguille du Midi mid station, leaving our lines hidden in the trees and the patches of mist.