Miage Glacier adventure

Björn, Martin and I drove through to Italy yesterday around midday. The idea was to go for a relaxed approach to Rifugio Elisabetta, stay overnight then aim for the much desired north east couloir (Bonatti) on Petite Mont Blanc the following morning. (Plan A)

The Bonatti is a beautiful, 1000m long couloir on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif. It lies on the north east face of the Petite Mont Blanc, opposite the hugely imposing west face of Mont Blanc. It’s an incredibly himalayan-esque setting.

Rifugio Elisabetta
Heading for Rifugio Elisabetta in the distance

The Rifugio Elisabetta is located at the end of the Val Veny valley, surrounded by unlimited ski terrain. The winter room is spacious, sleeping 20 with three long bunks and plenty of blankets. Luckily we had it to ourselves.

Rifugio Elisabetta
Side entrance to the winter room of Rifugio Elisabetta
Rifugio Elisabetta
Rifugio Elisabetta
Rifugio Elisabetta
Plenty of space (and blankets) for 3 lads
Rifugio Elisabetta
Men at work

After some fruit tea and a delicious main course of Ravioli à la Martin, we set the alarm for 05:30 and called it a night. The night was cold, even with 3 blankets and full ski wear on.

Rifugio Elisabetta
A little backtracking to start the day

Breakfast was served and soon after we set off back down the Val Veny valley for a short while, until we reached the moraine of the Miage Glacier and swung a left.

Rifugio Elisabetta
Nothing like a few 06:30am powder turns
Lammergeier
Is it a Lammergeier? Is it a Golden Eagle?

Whatever it was, it was bloody massive and it was circling ominously above us as we entered the Miage basin. A 7km ski tour from the rifugio got us to the base of the couloir.

Miage glacier
Martin working it for the camera on the approach
Miage glacier
What this photo doesn’t show is the ferocious wind, trying its best to stop us entering the basin
The Miage basin
The Miage basin = epic
miage basin
The Miage basin = epic (part 2)

We reached the base of the Bonatti couloir and our fears were confirmed. The wind and general lack of snow had made the couloir look far from skiable for ordinary folk like ourselves. It was completely wind scoured and icy and we didn’t much fancy boot-packing almost 1000m and then skiing these conditions.

We looked around the basin for an alternative (Plan B) but the wind had had its way with all the nearby north faces, and the south faces just looked embarrassed we were even considering them. Oh well, Plan A and B out of the window then.

Plan C?

On our way back down the Miage glacier, with Pizza heavily on our minds, Björn spotted a massive crevasse that looked bottomless. There’s got to be crystals down there. Time to put the kit we’d been lugging around to good use and have a little look.

Maybe we’ll find a crystal worth €1million (plan C) and all finally be able to get the ski gear we all want?

miage glacier
Björn and the black hole
Miage glacier
My turn to have a look
Miage glacier
No crystals in this one folks

So even though our Plan A, B, and C were not fruitful on this occasion, we still managed to have an awesome time in the mountains. It’s not the destination… it’s the.. well, you get the idea.

Thanks Martin and Björn. Bonatti, we’ll ski you soon!

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