July skiing, Drus rockfall, crowd dodging - a busy day
5 July 2012
With the weather in Chamonix so unsettled in the past few weeks, it has been somewhat challenging to find routes to do in the short weather windows. While climbing on the Aiguilles Rouges yesterday, we lamented how the next day was supposed to be pretty bad, except maybe for a few hours in the morning, and how we wouldn't have time to do anything. Then we looked across the valley at the Grands Montets resort, and noticed that above the 3300m high top station, the snow slope leading to the ultra-classic Petite Aiguille Verte looked pretty good. Almost skiable. Cross that, it was definitely skiable.
So this morning, Hulya and I headed to the top station to do what is probably the easiest and most crowded alpine route in Chamonix, the Petite Aiguille Verte ridge. With our skis on. A 200m snow slope, a good bergschrund, easy mixed ground, a few rock moves over a short wall, two tricky downclimbs and we were on top, barely an hour after stepping out of the cablecar. We could see the whole route, now teeming with people, for many on their very first alpine route!
Before we could descend, we were treated to a very spectacular show, as a big chunk of the north face of the Dru collapsed in a giant cloud of rock and snow. Luckily, I managed to capture a few shots of this sobering spectacle, especially considering I had very seriously considered climbing the very route that got erased, later in the summer!
The descent was quickly negotiated, leading to the most fun part of the day: skiing. In July. The slope was short and the snow barely covered the ice in parts, but with the heat of the day, it was deliciously soft and led to turns so fun that as soon as we got down, skis went back on the packs and we climbed right back up for another run.
A good day in the hills, for sure.