Breche de puiseux
The Breche de puiseux is a classic Cham ski mountaineering day out, starting at the top of the midi and finishing at Montenvers the route packs a bit more of a punch than the classic Vallee Blanche lines that also connect our start and finish points….
We followed the Vallee Blanche down towards the Requin hut and then turned right, towards Italy and started the 700m vertical skin, and then the 300m crampon up the top couloir. It was worth it, the views of the Geant and the north face of the Jorrasses were unreal, not to mention the near 3000m of ski decent!
As usual we set out well prepared with some brilliant route beta- ‘Just turn right at the hut and go up, then abseil off the other side’ from Josh….so after a brief discussion of which couloir to climb, and to if it could be a good idea to start carrying a map, we decided to climb up the more fun looking, narrower and steeper of the two. Due to amazing alpine route finding from the team we chose the right couloir and skinned towards it via some especially sketchy , and potentially (definitely) avoidable crevasse skinning. Scary stuff.
I had a very personal battle with the little bergshrund wallowing around in what is probably the only soft snow in the Alps right now, then set about catching the others up in the 45degree sun-trap. Bad idea. I was bloody hanging out my arse by the time I got to the top….
At the top of the couloir you are spat out at a small col on a knife edge ridge, rocks and snowpatches droping down to Glaciers on both sides. In France this is apparently the perfect place to bung a wee hut. Fantastic little thing it was too, crudely insulated and stocked with a few tins of food and some blankets, you literately dangled your feet over cliffs from just a couple off feet outside the hut.
After quite a long time buggering around taking pictures and dangling over fatally large cliffs at the spectacularly situated hut, we thought we should probably get going…..time was getting on and we needed to catch the train to avoid a long dark walk through the woods back to town.
We cracked out a bit of a down-climb and then one abseil and we were down on the Glacier below one of the biggest alpine north faces: the Grand Jorasses. We again debated which way to go and after consulting our imaginary map we concluded ‘down’ was the best direction. Staying to the left edge of the glacier I think we missed most of the crevasses and we soon found some exit couloirs that, thankfully, dropped us down onto the Leschaux glacier proper.
We pointed it to the train station and managed to catch the last train…….just.