Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Combin de Valsorey - North West Face "Couloir Benedetti"

Grand Combin's Valsorey NW face has been for me one of those never ending projects. For several years I wanted to ski this face, but never got even close to ski it. Last Friday-Saturday looked like a perfect sunny window after some 10-20cm of fresh snow. So now the mountain seemed ready, but would I be?

Last couple of weeks I had been suffering a bit from borreliosis, which made me feel pretty dizzy already at lower altitudes in Norway. If possible the medicaments made my head spin even more than usual... so will that be the show-stopper this time?! I thought what the hell lets give it a try. Maybe fresh mountain air would just heel everything. It only took a quick call to Dani and Henkka and Finnish-Swiss team was set to go.

Combin de Valsorey NW face on the right

Finally despite my doubts everything worked out as planned and we got to ski the face via direct line from the summit. I think we got it in pretty optimal condition. There might be some days where you could ski the face with more snow and no ice, but those days aren't many. 
Let the pics do the rest of talking. Thanks Dani and Henkka for sharing this adventure! 

4am start from Cabane Panossière with bright full-moon
Sunrise at Plateau des Maisons Blanche app. 3250m

Climbing up the right side of the face to avoid the line of fire..


At the beginning of the exit couloir

Climbing up we could feel the ice under some 5-15cm of snow.

Summit ridge of Combin de Valsorey 4184m

First steep turns on some hard snow



Dani on the steep traverse between rock and blue ice 

Good skiing after some blue ice sections at top

You can see the ice on the left of Dani's tracks









Sunday, May 8, 2016

Snow hunting at the Lyngen Alps

The Alps have seen one of the best spring seasons for steeps and it just continues. At the same time it's been very warm around Lyngen with some record high temperatures. With all the skiing going on in the Alps I really had some mixed feelings when packing my skis to head up north. I was just hoping that it wouldn't be as bad as all the rumours... But as we arrived the conditions proved really shitty... Snow level somewhere around 700 meters with rotten wet snow up to the highest summits...damn!!

One of the targets was to ski the Otertinden couloirs nicely located above our cabin....didn't work out this time..
@Signaldalen
Team getting aggressive as snow keeps on melting
Nyt rillataan!


Unfortunately there wasn't really much to do on skis during the the first days. But if there's no skiing, there's always good fishing in Lyngen.  


Eric playing the waiting game

Jeremy and his first fish ever, congrats!!! 

Learning new techniques

©Eric Cachet
Luckily after few days the temperatures dropped and at least we could safely try some lines. As first mission we decided to try a classic Istinden line despite of stormy weather. As a reward we got to ski in a white-out some world class ice, breakable crust and avalanche runnels and all that fun spiced up with some 700 meters of walking.... Hmmm not really motivating..what next? More fishing?

Giving Istinden a try

It sure felt like winter at the summit
Careful turns crossing some icy runnels
You got to be eager...



Luckily Mikko Lampinen (bad ass Finnish skier & Lyngen Veteran) asked us to join a little adventure up North at the Kagen Island. The whole crew bought the idea and soon we were on a ferry up north. All the efforts paid off and we got to experience beautiful landscapes with some nice lines. During the week we visited the island twice. Good skiing combined with magical midnight sun made us to forget all the last days struggles.

12.30am blue moment

Getting the first light at around 2 am

Mikko & Antte

Antte catching the magic light
Jeremy

Roch



Jeremy

Jeremy 

Another beautiful evening at Kagen Island

1 am session with Jeremy Pernet

Finally good conditions! 


Laura  at the pre-summit of Store Kagtinden

Jeremy dropping into blue world below



Jeremy


©Eric Cachet

Had to try a little adventure line from the summit of Store Kagtinden..was stupid

Finding the way.. ©Eric Cachet

Roch @Store Kagtinden

Laura, Jeremy & Roch on cruising mode


At 8 am it was time to call it a day. 
It was 18 years ago when I first visited Lyngen. The first trip was around Isskartindane from where you get a good view of  surrounding peaks. From the first sight I was impressed about the couloirs on Forholttinden. One of them is called the "Godmother of all Couloirs"  with huge walls on both sides making it look pretty impressive. Not very steep, but long aesthetic classic couloir.

For our last day we wanted to get something interesting done and Forholttinden was just the right target. Now finally after 18 years I got to ski this line via little variation on skiers right. It was not just good skiing we had but the whole little adventure with crossing the fjord with leaking little boat, bushwhacking, constantly changing weather and so on. Good times!




Our leaking ride fixed with some wood and chewing gum! 

It looks pretty dry down below... 







Jeremy taking the first steepish turns on our little variation

Jeremy and the magic light

We got it all. Snow, rain, sun... 

Testing Movement Alptracks on and off the hill. Solid performer ;-) 





Thanks for the Movement Team Laura, Jeremy, Eric & Roch for the good times! Special thanks for Movement Skis for this opportunity! Really big thanks for Mikko and Antte for great tips and company! You saved our trip! Also thanks for Stein-Erik at Sorheim Brügge. If anybody needs a good place to stay in Lyngen, give Eric a call. He'll fix everything you need!

Merci!