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Success and failure in Chamonix Mt Blanc.

Last night the cheap Semuse lager in the local tasted good.

This is not a usual occurrence as Semuse tastes of shite.

At gone 10pm last night a couple of friends and I stumbled out of a dark snowless forest, and then straight into the pub, after a long day in the mountains above Chamonix. It was a strange old day filled with last minute decisions, failure, cold fingers (and my nose), flat camera battery’s, GNAR ego boost’s, touring, shitty snow, first lifts……and last lifts. People talk of first lifts and I have been on first lift many times, but I have never been on the very first cable car from the valley and the very last one… the same day

So the day started with Searler getting uncomfortable seeing me get up with a semi-lob on and then rushing out the door at 7.30 to get the first bus. Rather annoyingly the bus wasn’t even scheduled to come until 8.20. The bus stop is about 23 seconds from my apartment so time was wasted in the local Spar browsing  the Branston pickle and 12euro bars of dairy milk in the English aisle.

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Ensa couloir, Chamonix.

Paulie and Rory heading to the entry under Mt Blanc.

So as most of you will know, I am based in Chamonix for the winter and I will be updating the site with some (hopefully) exciting adventures of the better ski days. I will spare you the crap resort skiing and jibbing but hopefully have some cool pictures of the better days weather they are simple pow days or classic ski mountaineering lines.

First line of the season was the Ensa coulior off the top of the Brevant Cable car.

I went up with two old friends from Tignes, Paulie and Rory, and a new friend and mountainbike ripper from Whistler James McSkimming. The start of the route involves a few steep turns leading into a choke with a chockstone blocking the way before opening up into the couloir proper leading towards the valley 1500m below.

James at the first safe spot below the chockstone.

Its is only about ten feet wide at the entry point and is a tricky few moves over the iced up chockstone…..some people choose to lower over this section on a rope from the fixed piton but Paulie led the way and swiftly sent it over the wee drop/chockstone. James followed suit and then it was my turn. I skiied up to the chockstone and down climbed with my skis on over the first icy rocky bulge. Droping off the second small bit and speed/hip checking before regrouping in a safe spot with the other two. After a few seconds we heard Rory scratching and cursing his way down the rock above. We were round a corner so couldn’t see anything….but he quickly came into view jibbing, spinning and ragdolling down the couloir. Rory managed to arrest the fall in the deep snow but a lone ski disappeared down the hill at an alarming pace.

All downhill to town....

After watching Rory down-climb for about 25minutes he regained contact with the lost ski. Luckily not too injured, just a slightly stretched MCL ligament in the knee due to his dynafit’s having the DIN locked out. Lucky the snow was soft enabling the fall to be arrested. So after a quick curse directed at Paulie for keeping the rope in his pack we set of down the rest of the line uneventfully. After a mile or so of early-season walking-out through shitty avi debry and scragged tree’s it was well earned beer time.


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