Cosmiques Couloir

Yesterday was a good day. Fergus and I had planned to take the Aiguille du Midi lift at 11:30. It was a sunny day and we were both stoked to get up in the high mountains. After rushing around finishing off odd jobs I made it to the lift at 11:25, we hopped on and in 30minutes we were 3842m high.

On the way up we decided we’d go for the Cosmiques Couloir. The Cosmiques Couloir is a Chamonix classic ‘steep ski’ route. The angle of the slope averages at around 45° which means it is essentially a ‘no-fall zone’ at the top.

Walking down the arrete in windy conditions we bumped into Lewis who joined in the fun. After a 10 minute boot pack we were at the entrance of the couloir. We deemed it possible to side step the rocky outcrop at the entrance but opted for rope work as a) it’s more fun and b) it’s a lot safer. It was a 30m rappel from the entrance of the couloir to a spot that was free enough from rocks to be able to drop in.

I set off down the couloir, lowering myself over the rock band feeling very exposed to nature. With no one in front of us the potential for an undisturbed descent was real. I rappelled and set myself up for my first turns, after a few short side steps. The snow in the steep top section was soft and sticky which made for easier skiing. Ice would not have been welcome. We were blessed with the conditions, it had recently snowed 1m and there were only a few tracks ahead of us.

I was cautious on the top section where the degrees is close to 50°. Skiing a ‘no-fall zone’ is something very new to me and my heart was beating a little quicker than usual. Once the steep was negotiated, the couloir opens up and it’s possible to plot a line down. I traversed skiers left to a shaded area with virtually no tracks. The others rappelled down and soon followed. As the slope mellowed out to somewhere between 35-40° I was high in confidence and we all skied fresh lines in deep powder.

We continued skiing down, amid cries of ‘Yewwww!’ and ‘Yeah boys!’, until we reached the Bossons Glacier. Here we kept a high line skiers right to avoid big crevasses and general untracked, unknown territory. The traverse continued round towards the old Midi station. From here we skied the Para Face, a big wide open powder field above Chamonix, overlooked by the Aiguille du Midi again in blower pow.

Once we hit the tree line the open spaces closed in on us but we took our time negotiating the tight trees and shrubs until we reached the Mont Blanc tunnel. It was strange to see lorries and cars. We’d just been surrounded by huge peaks, long couloirs and rock faces. It’s incredible how the Aiguille du Midi grants access to such dramatic backcountry terrain, only a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Chamonix. Truly unique. Once at the Mont Blanc tunnel we were determined to ski all the way down to Chamonix rather than hitch a ride so we took a track that led us through yet more trees, over a stream, through a gypsy settlement, down two side roads before finally reaching Chamonix centre where we unfortunately had to take our skis off..

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All smiles on the windy arrete
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Looking down at the descent.
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The view over towards Mont Blanc
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Lewis getting it
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Loving every turn. Bossons glacier in the distance.   

Here’s some video footage from the descent. I hope it ties in a little bit with the above description!

Thank you for the good times boys! Looking forward to the next adventure!

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