SKAGIT ALPINISM

Springtime in Cham (and a bit elsewhere)!

June 24th, 2014

A couple weeks ago I returned to North America after spending almost all of the spring in Chamonix. I had missed the two previous spring seasons in Cham, so it was exciting to be back in the ultimate alpine playground. People often ask me what my “goals” are when I go to Cham, and to be honest I usually don’t have any. I go to Chamonix mostly to simply have fun, and also to get in some good mileage/training on real alpine terrain. Although there are some routes in the Mont Blanc massif that are technically very difficult and would be cool accomplishments, I think that there isn’t a single route in the massif that I would count among my most meaningful climbs if I succeeded on it. With almost every feature already climbed, and with the option of rescue almost always just a quick phone call away, there isn’t a lot of adventure or commitment to be found in Chamonix. Rescues are routinely performed with no injury or emergency, simply because climbers don’t want to lose gear rappelling a steep face. There are still new frontiers to be crossed in Chamonix, in the form of enchainments, speed ascents and first free ascents (although, personally, I think there is some irony in “freeing” an aid route using dry-tooling), but those aren’t the sort of goals that motivate me in the same way as big, committing terrain in Alaska, Patagonia, the Himalaya or other big, wild mountains.

However, what Chamonix lacks in adventure and commitment, it definitely makes up for in access! The awesome experience of playing in the Mont Blanc Massif is foreign to most North American climbers. The Mont Blanc Massif is true alpine terrain, something which hardly exists at all in the contiguous United States. Unlike alpine climbing in North America, you never need to wake up at 3am and start your day with a 3hr drive. You never need to bushwack for hours before arriving above treeline. The system of lifts allows you to often climb or ski on fantastic 4,000m peaks as a daytrip from town, and even when heading out on multi-day climbs you never need to carry a heavy backpack thanks to the extensive system of huts and bivouac shelters. Oh, and if you have a smartphone you can even check your e-mail from the bivy! All these factors allow you to rack up an incredible amount of mileage on alpine terrain when you are hanging out in Cham, and that is what I generally end up doing when I’m there. Most of my days in Chamonix are planned the night before, and many even the morning of. Even taking a “rest day” often means an easy lap up the Arête des Cosmiques or an easy ski lap down the Glacier Ronde or Cosmique Couloir.

Thus, my springtime in Cham is a blur of activity, and I never found the time while I was there to update my blog. I was also experimenting this spring with using a smartphone as my only camera – This failed experiment resulted in me not taking as many photos, and many of the ones I took are terrible quality compared to even a small point and shoot camera. On some other days I was simply too lazy to take any photos at all. But, nonetheless, here’s a massive blog post done in retrospect, mostly just a collection of photos, with a few short bits of story as well.

I spent most of my first week in Chamonix climbing with my friend Mikey Schaefer, who was there for his first time. On my first day in Chamonix, feeling tired and jetlagged from the travel, we headed to the Frendo Spur on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi, a classic which I had never done before.  It was still proper winter at this point, and some sections of the route involved wallowing in impressively deep snow, which was a fun challenge except that it caused us to miss the last cabin down the telepherique!

Colin starting the technical climbing on the Frendo Spur.

Colin starting the technical climbing on the Frendo Spur.

Colin on the lower half of the Frendo Spur.

Colin on the lower half of the Frendo Spur.

Colin starting the snow arete near the top of the Frendo Spur.

Colin starting the snow arete near the top of the Frendo Spur.

Mikey soloing steep snow near the top of the Frendo Spur.

Mikey soloing steep snow near the top of the Frendo Spur.

Colin starting up the right-hand finish to the Frendo Spur.

Colin starting up the right-hand finish to the Frendo Spur.

Mikey on the right-hand finish to the Frendo Spur.

Mikey on the right-hand finish to the Frendo Spur.

Mikey on the final slopes of the Frendo Spur with late evening light below.

Mikey on the final slopes of the Frendo Spur with late evening light below.

 

A day cragging with Mikey on the east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul, on the classic “Modica-Noury” route. A lot of alpine ice grades in Chamonix seem very soft in comparison to Canadian Rockies grades (and it’s intentional and conscious, something to do with the alpine ice grade encompassing the situation in which one would climb it), but the “Modica-Noury” takes the cake! It’s graded AI5+, and we climbed it at AI3!

Mikey soloing the first little step of the Modica-Noury.

Mikey soloing the first little step of the Modica-Noury.

Mikey leading on the Modica-Noury.

Mikey leading on the Modica-Noury.

Mikey leading on the Modica-Noury.

Mikey leading on the Modica-Noury.

Colin following on the Modica-Noury.

Colin following on the Modica-Noury.

Colin rapping down the Modica-Noury.

Colin rapping down the Modica-Noury.

 

Sunny, warm rock climbing with Mikey up the “Contamine” route on the south face of the Aiguille du Midi, despite the fact that it was technically still winter:

Colin starting up the south face of the Aiguille du Midi.

Colin starting up the south face of the Aiguille du Midi.

Colin on the second pitch of the Contamine route.

Colin on the second pitch of the Contamine route.

Colin near the top of the Contamine route.

Colin near the top of the Contamine route.

The super-fun sport-climbing finish to the south face of the Midi.

The super-fun sport-climbing finish to the south face of the Midi.
Mikey following the arete at the top of the south face of the Midi.

Mikey following the arete at the top of the south face of the Midi.

 

Climbing and skiing the Aiguille d’Argentière with Mikey via the Glacier du Milieu:

Colin skinning up the Glacier du Milieu.

Colin skinning up the Glacier du Milieu.

Mikey on the upper portion of the Glacier du Milieu.

Mikey on the upper portion of the Glacier du Milieu.

Chamoniards Patrick and Eliza near the top of the Aiguille d'Argentière.

Chamoniards Patrick and Eliza near the top of the Aiguille d’Argentière.

Colin skiing down the Glacier du Milieu.

Colin skiing down the Glacier du Milieu.

Mikey skiing spring snow on the Glacier du Milieu.

Mikey skiing spring snow on the Glacier du Milieu.

Colin above the last turns of the Glacier du Milieu, with the north face of Les Droites behind, in very dry conditions.

Colin above the last turns of the Glacier du Milieu, with the north face of Les Droites behind, in very dry conditions.

Mikey skiing the final portion down to the Glacier Argentière.

Mikey skiing the final portion down to the Glacier Argentière.

 

Playing in the alpine by day, bouldering at the EMHM by night:

Evening bouldering at the EMHM.

Evening bouldering at the EMHM.

 

Some adventure skiing (aka getting lost) near the Dent du Geant with Steve House and some Swedish friends:

Swedish friends searching for a cool ski descent near the Dent du Geant.

Swedish friends searching for a cool ski descent near the Dent du Geant.

Swedish friends climbing back up to the ridge after realizing we had gone completely the wrong way...

Swedish friends climbing back up to the ridge after realizing we had gone completely the wrong way…

 

Skiing the Couloir Trappier with Caroline George – a super nice ski run, can’t believe I’d never done it before!

Colin taking a break near the top of the Trappier Couloir.

Colin taking a break near the top of the Trappier Couloir.

Caroline skiing in the Trappier Couloir.

Caroline skiing in the Trappier Couloir.

 

On March 30 I climbed the classic route up the north face of Le Grand Charmoz with Briton Dave Sharp. It was a cool climb, up a particularly cool-looking face that I’d wanted to do for years. We approached on skis from Montenvers, descended to the Nantillons  Glacier, and then climbed back up to the col between the Grand Charmoz and l’Aiguille de l’M to return to our skis below the north face. This seemed like a good way to do the approach, but we definitely missed the last train down from Montenvers, and had to walk from half-way down the James Bond trail.

After switching out of ski boots, Colin nearing the base of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

After switching out of ski boots, Colin nearing the base of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin starting up the first pitch of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin starting up the first pitch of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave low on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave low on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave climbing nice runnels of nevé on the Grand Charmoz.

Dave climbing nice runnels of nevé on the Grand Charmoz.

Dave leading a pitch below the mid-face snowfield on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave leading a pitch below the mid-face snowfield on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin kicking steps up the mid-way snowfield on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin kicking steps up the mid-way snowfield on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin starting the upper technical pitches of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin starting the upper technical pitches of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin leading moderate mixed ground high on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin leading moderate mixed ground high on the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave coming up a trickier bit, near the top of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave coming up a trickier bit, near the top of the North Face of the Grand Charmoz.

Funky rock means complicated belays, at least for Captain Safety! Colin heading out on one of the upper pitches.

Funky rock means complicated belays, at least for Captain Safety! Colin heading out on one of the upper pitches.

Dave emerging from the North Face, arriving on the summit ridge of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave emerging from the North Face, arriving on the summit ridge of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin climbing the summit needle of the Grand Charmoz, not surprisingly the most difficult climbing of the North Face route.

Colin climbing the summit needle of the Grand Charmoz, not surprisingly the most difficult climbing of the North Face route.

Dave on the summit of the Grand Charmoz.

Dave on the summit of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin on the summit of the Grand Charmoz.

Colin on the summit of the Grand Charmoz.

Climbing ladders above the Nantillons Glacier, up to the col with Aiguille de l'M.

Climbing ladders above the Nantillons Glacier, up to the col with Aiguille de l’M.

 

I got to go climbing for a couple days in the mountains with Ueli Steck, and it was certainly a pleasure to climb with someone so highly skilled. Our first day climbing together we figured it would be most fun to do a route that was not so technical, and more of a “romp,” on which we could move fast and enjoy ourselves, so we went and climbed the classic Couloir Lagarde on the northeast face of Les Droites. There are a couple steps of AI4 at the bottom of the couloir, and Ueli was kind enough to wait for me, as I certainly couldn’t keep up otherwise! The rest of the couloir required enough step-kicking that keeping up was no problem. We descended via the same route, down-climbing most of the couloir, and making some rappels off a single 60m rap line. I had climbed the Lagarde a couple times before, but this was certainly the quickest I’ve done it, taking roughly 5 hours roundtrip from our skis on the Glacier Argentière.

Colin soloing one of the ice steps at the bottom of the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin soloing one of the ice steps at the bottom of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli starting up some AI4 on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli starting up some AI4 on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin soloing on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin soloing on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin on the lower portion of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli breaking trail halfway up the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli breaking trail halfway up the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli in the short bit of mixed climbing near the top of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli in the short bit of mixed climbing near the top of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli and Colin on the summit of Les Droites.

Ueli and Colin on the summit of Les Droites.

Ueli rapping one of the ice steps at the bottom of the Couloir Lagarde.

Ueli rapping one of the ice steps at the bottom of the Couloir Lagarde.

 

I headed out on April 7 with Jon Griffith, Korra Pesce and Ben O’Connor to try the north face of the Dent du Requin. Conditions on the face seemed really bad (deep sugar snow over dry rock, with no ice or nevé), so we traversed to the right and climbed the gully up to the Brêche Este du Dent du Requin. Not quite so grand as the original objective, but a fun climb nonetheless.

Équipe Rouge at the Plan de l'Aiguille. From left to right: Korra "Freak Machine" Pesce, Jon "G-Force" Griffith, and Ben "Dancing Feet" O'Connor.

Équipe Rouge at the Plan de l’Aiguille. From left to right: Korra “Freak Machine” Pesce, Jon “G-Force” Griffith, and Ben “Dancing Feet” O’Connor.

Jon in a douche de spindrift.

Jon in a douche de spindrift.

Jon leading a tricky pitch on the Baumont-Gaby.

Jon leading a tricky pitch on the Baumont-Gaby.

Jon emerging into the sunlight at the Breche E du Dent du Requin.

Jon emerging into the sunlight at the Breche E du Dent du Requin.

 

On April 10 Jon Griffith and I attempted the Czech Route on the northeast face of Les Droites. It was quite a cool route, and Jon did a nice job of leading the crux pitch of vertical slush, but despite our early start from the top of Les Grands Montets, we were too slow to pull it off. Upon joining the upper Tournier Spur we realized that we would be in for a long, cold epic if we tried to make it to the summit, and bailed down into the Couloir Lagarde instead, which allowed an easy descent.

Evening light on Les Drus and Mont Blanc, from the top of the Grands Montets.

Evening light on Les Drus and Mont Blanc, from the top of the Grands Montets.

Jon eating breakfast and checking his e-mails in the bathroom at the top of Les Grands Montets.

Jon eating breakfast and checking his e-mails in the bathroom at the top of Les Grands Montets.

Colin kicking steps up the snowfield, low on the Czech Route.

Colin kicking steps up the snowfield, low on the Czech Route.

Colin starting up the ice runnels of the Czech Route.

Colin starting up the ice runnels of the Czech Route.

Colin climbing a nice pitch of nèvé on the Czech Route.

Colin climbing a nice pitch of nèvé on the Czech Route.

Jon arriving at a belay low on the Czech Route.

Jon arriving at a belay low on the Czech Route.

Jon leading the crux ice pitch of the Czech Route, made worse because it was turning to slush in the sun.

Jon leading the crux ice pitch of the Czech Route, made worse because it was turning to slush in the sun.

Jon kicking steps on the Czech Route.

Jon kicking steps on the Czech Route.

Jon leading some moderate mixed terrain on the Czech Route.

Jon leading some moderate mixed terrain on the Czech Route.

Colin starting up some tricky mixed pitches, shortly before the Czech Route joins the Tournier Spur.

Colin starting up some tricky mixed pitches, shortly before the Czech Route joins the Tournier Spur.

Colin leading a mixed pitch just before the Czech Route joins the Tournier Spur.

Colin leading a mixed pitch just before the Czech Route joins the Tournier Spur.

Colin climbing easy ice on the Tournier Spur, with the Aiguille Verte behind.

Colin climbing easy ice on the Tournier Spur, with the Aiguille Verte behind.

Colin leading easy ice on the Tournier Spur.

Colin leading easy ice on the Tournier Spur.

Colin at a belay on the Tournier Spur.

Colin at a belay on the Tournier Spur.

The notch on the Tournier Spur where we decided to bail down the Couloir Lagarde.

The notch on the Tournier Spur where we decided to bail down the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin rapping from the crest of the Tournier Spur down into the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin rapping from the crest of the Tournier Spur down into the Couloir Lagarde.

Colin setting a V-thread on the lower Couloir Lagarde.

Colin setting a V-thread on the lower Couloir Lagarde.

 

On April 12 Nils Nielsen and I climbed the north couloir of the Col Armand Charlet, and tried to summit the Aiguille du Jardin. We reached one of the two summits, but the other summit was clearly a meter or so higher, and more technically difficult. It looked doable, even in our ski boots and with our modest rack, but we were more concerned with catching the train down from Montenvers, and thus hurried off on our descent without trying the proper summit. Alas, in the end we missed the last train from Montenvers by about a half hour anyways, and had to walk to the valley in our ski boots!

Nils working on his "metrosexual mountainguide" look.

Nils working on his “metrosexual mountainguide” look.

Nils traversing out of the Col Armand Charlet towards the Aiguille du Jardin.

Nils traversing out of the Col Armand Charlet towards the Aiguille du Jardin.

Nils climbing on the Aiguille du Jardin.

Nils climbing on the Aiguille du Jardin.

Nils downclimbing the couloir on the south side of the Col Armand Charlet.

Nils downclimbing the couloir on the south side of the Col Armand Charlet.

 

During a period of extremely high winds, I went to Céüse for a week with Ueli, and another friend of his from Interlaken, Daniel. Céüse was definitely an awesome crag, and Ueli was definitely an impressive sport climber. The climbing at Céüse was very high quality, although not easy for someone inexperienced on limestone (myself). The setting is very pretty, and it was cool as well to meet local badasses Arnaud Petit and Stephanie Bodet. Although Ueli is known for his alpine-climbing accomplishments he has a very strong background in technical climbing, and despite being “out of shape,” he sent 8a as his warm-up one morning.

Daniel climbing on the far right end of Céüse.

Daniel climbing on the far right end of Céüse.

Ueli climbing "Magicien du RIGA."

Ueli climbing “Magicien du RIGA.”

Arnaud Petit in his home bouldering gym.

Arnaud Petit in his home bouldering gym.

Ueli and Daniel watching "The Matrix" in the bathrooms of the Céüse campground.

Ueli and Daniel watching “The Matrix” in the bathrooms of the Céüse campground.

Daniel, Ueli and Colin enjoying life in the Céüse campground.

Daniel, Ueli and Colin enjoying life in the Céüse campground.

Daniel taking a fall on "Magicien du RIGA."

Daniel taking a fall on “Magicien du RIGA.”

Colin climbing "Bibendum."

Colin climbing “Bibendum.”

This guy needs to lay off the raclette...

This guy needs to lay off the raclette…

Ueli cleaning draws.

Ueli cleaning draws.

 

Skiing the north slope of the Col des Cristaux on April 24 with my housemate Dylan Taylor, and Briton/Spaniard/fellow-Seattleite Eduardo Blanchard Wrigglesworth IV:

Yannick Graziani just below the Col des Cristaux.

Yannick Graziani just below the Col des Cristaux.

Eduardo Blanchard Wrigglesworth IV skiing the north slope of the Col des Cristaux.

Eduardo Blanchard Wrigglesworth IV skiing the north slope of the Col des Cristaux.

 

My girlfriend, Sarah, arrived at the end of April, and with bad weather in Chamonix we headed back down to Céüse, this time with local Cham friends Damien Tomasi, Korra Pesce and Jeff Mercier. It was of course nice to be back, but at the end of the first day I was trying a classic 8a called “Carte Blanche,” and I suffered my first real finger injury. It probably didn’t help that I was tired at the end of the day, it probably didn’t help that it was pretty cold, but mostly I think it was just because I’m not accustomed to climbing on pockets. I was making a big cross move off of a two-finger pocket, and felt something go wrong in my ring finger. Unfortunately, I’m still not able to go rock climbing on routes that feel hard, but hopefully that will change soon.

Sarah climbing in the "Demi-Lune" sector of Céüse.

Sarah climbing in the “Demi-Lune” sector of Céüse.

Sarah climbing in the "Demi-Lune" sector of Céüse.

Sarah climbing in the “Demi-Lune” sector of Céüse.

Céüse campground life, with Jeff Mercier, Korra "Freak Machine" Pesce, Damien Tomasi and Colin.

Céüse campground life, with Jeff Mercier, Korra “Freak Machine” Pesce, Damien Tomasi and Colin.

Damien climbing in the "Cascade" sector of Céüse.

Damien climbing in the “Cascade” sector of Céüse.

This is what Céüse has to offer someone with a finger injury.

This is what Céüse has to offer someone with a finger injury.

Jeff Mercier climbing in the "Cascade" sector.

Jeff Mercier climbing in the “Cascade” sector.

 

Back in Chamonix, ski touring with Sarah in the Argentière Basin, on the closing day of Les Grands Montets:

Sarah skinning up the Argentière Glacier for her first time.

Sarah skinning up the Argentière Glacier for her first time.

Colin skinning up the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Colin skinning up the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Colin ready to ski down the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Colin ready to ski down the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Sarah skiing on the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Sarah skiing on the Glacier du Tour Noire.

Sarah skiing on the Glacier du Tour Noire, with Les Courtes behind.

Sarah skiing on the Glacier du Tour Noire, with Les Courtes behind.

 

Climbing the Tour Ronde with Sarah on May 5:

Sarah's first time descending the arete at the top of the Aiguille du Midi.

Sarah’s first time descending the arete at the top of the Aiguille du Midi.

Sarah skiing the top of the "Vallée Blanche."

Sarah skiing the top of the “Vallée Blanche.”

Sarah climbing the voie normale on the Tour Ronde.

Sarah climbing the voie normale on the Tour Ronde.

Colin climbing the voie normale on the Tour Ronde, with the Courmayeur valley below.

Colin climbing the voie normale on the Tour Ronde, with the Courmayeur valley below.

Sarah in a respectable interaction with the Madonna at the summit of the Tour Ronde.

Sarah in a respectable interaction with the Madonna at the summit of the Tour Ronde.

Sarah skiing in the "Vallée Blanche," with the north face of the Tour Ronde behind.

Sarah skiing in the “Vallée Blanche,” with the north face of the Tour Ronde behind.

Colin skiing in the "Vallée Blanche," with the Grand Capucin and Mont Blanc du Tacul behind.

Colin skiing in the “Vallée Blanche,” with the Grand Capucin and Mont Blanc du Tacul behind.

Sarah skiing the "Vallée Noire," the skier's right side of the Vallée Blanche.

Sarah skiing the “Vallée Noire,” the skier’s right side of the Vallée Blanche.

 

It was Sarah’s first trip to Chamonix, so of course a lap up the Arête des Cosmiques was mandatory:

Sarah's first time on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Sarah’s first time on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Colin setting up one of the raps on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Colin setting up one of the raps on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Colin climbing on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Colin climbing on the Arête des Cosmiques.

Sarah climbing the Arête des Cosmiques.

Sarah climbing the Arête des Cosmiques.

Sarah climbing the Arête des Cosmiques.

Sarah climbing the Arête des Cosmiques.

"No cramps area." Colin breaking the rules.

“No cramps area.” Colin breaking the rules.

Doing the tourist thing at the top of the Aiguille du Midi.

Doing the tourist thing at the top of the Aiguille du Midi.

 

Doing the classic ski tour through the Brèche Puiseux with Sarah, with an extra lap on the Glacier des Periades, because the snow was so nice!

The scene at the base of the Aiguille du Midi telepherique on a powder day.

The scene at the base of the Aiguille du Midi telepherique on a powder day.

Lift lines in France operate differently than in North America... If you don't get a bit aggressive you'll never make it on the lift!

Lift lines in France operate differently than in North America… If you don’t get a bit aggressive you’ll never make it on the lift!

Colin skiing up the Glacier des Periades.

Colin skiing up the Glacier des Periades.

Colin skiing up the Glacier des Periades, with the Dent du Geant above.

Colin skiing up the Glacier des Periades, with the Dent du Geant above.

Creamy spring powder down the upper Glacier des Periades for a preliminary run.

Creamy spring powder down the upper Glacier des Periades for a preliminary run.

Sarah climbing up to the Brèche Puiseux.

Sarah climbing up to the Brèche Puiseux.

Sarah enjoying creamy spring powder on the Mont Mallet glacier.

Sarah enjoying creamy spring powder on the Mont Mallet glacier.

Sarah skiing on the Mont Mallet glacier, with the north face of Les Grandes Jorasses behind.

Sarah skiing on the Mont Mallet glacier, with the north face of Les Grandes Jorasses behind.

 

Nils Nielsen and I made a short trip over to the Val d’Aosta to climb the Dent de Hérens on May 17 via it’s voie normale. It was an easy climb, but with a gorgeous summit ridge, and of course it is nice to visit a new valley.

Colin starting the approach towards the Dent d'Hérens, biking around the Lac de Places de Moulin.

Colin starting the approach towards the Dent d’Hérens, biking around the Lac de Places de Moulin.

Nils skinning up to the Dent d'Hérens.

Nils skinning up to the Dent d’Hérens.

Colin traversing out to the west ridge on the Dent d'Hérens, using a rope because the snow stability seemed questionable.

Colin traversing out to the west ridge on the Dent d’Hérens, using a rope because the snow stability seemed questionable.

Colin on the west ridge of the Dent d'Hérens. We started at the far end of the lake visibile below, the Lac de Places de Moulin.

Colin on the west ridge of the Dent d’Hérens. We started at the far end of the lake visibile below, the Lac de Places de Moulin.

Nils climbing the west ridge of the Dent d'Hérens.

Nils climbing the west ridge of the Dent d’Hérens.

Colin on the spectacular summit ridge of the Dent d'Hérens.

Colin on the spectacular summit ridge of the Dent d’Hérens.

Nils on the summit of the Dent d'Hérens, with a nice view of the Cervino.

Nils on the summit of the Dent d’Hérens, with a nice view of the Cervino.

Nils and Colin on the summit of the Dent d'Hérens, celebrating Norwegian National Day.

Nils and Colin on the summit of the Dent d’Hérens, celebrating Norwegian National Day.

Colin descending the summit ridge of the Dent d'Hérens, with the Cervino behind.

Colin descending the summit ridge of the Dent d’Hérens, with the Cervino behind.

Nils descending the Dent d'Hérens.

Nils descending the Dent d’Hérens.

Colin downclimbing snow on the Dent d'Hérens.

Colin downclimbing snow on the Dent d’Hérens.

 

A solo day-trip up the “Trois Monts” route on Mont Blanc:

A not-crowded summit of Mont Blanc.

A not-crowded summit of Mont Blanc.

Self-portrait on the summit of Mont Blanc.

Self-portrait on the summit of Mont Blanc.

 

Skiing the Spencer Couloir on Aiguille de Blatiere with Danny Uhlmann and Ross Berg:

Danny and Ross skinning up the Nantillons Glacier.

Danny and Ross skinning up the Nantillons Glacier.

Danny and Ross near the top of the Nantillons Glacier, about to de-skin and start up the Spencer Couloir.

Danny and Ross near the top of the Nantillons Glacier, about to de-skin and start up the Spencer Couloir.

Ross Berg near the top of the Spencer Couloir.

Ross Berg near the top of the Spencer Couloir.

Ross Berg skiing the Spencer Couloir on the Aiguille du Blatiere.

Ross Berg skiing the Spencer Couloir on the Aiguille du Blatiere.

Ross Berg skiing the Spencer Couloir on the Aiguille du Blatiere.

Ross Berg skiing the Spencer Couloir on the Aiguille du Blatiere.

Ross Berg skiing the lower part of the Nantillons Glacier.

Ross Berg skiing the lower part of the Nantillons Glacier.

 

On my second-to-last day in Cham, May 24, I went out with Andreas Fransson and Fred Sansoz to ski the north face of the Tour Ronde. It was a perfect finish to my season in Cham – nice snow, an aesthetic descent, and fun partners.

Fred and Andreas climbing up the Couloir Gervasutti, on the west side of the Tour Ronde.

Fred and Andreas climbing up the Couloir Gervasutti, on the west side of the Tour Ronde.

Fred giving Andreas a quick belay, to check out the snow conditions on the face.

Fred giving Andreas a quick belay, to check out the snow conditions on the face.

Andreas skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Andreas skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Andreas skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Andreas skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Fred skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Fred skiing the North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Andreas adjusting gear while Fred makes the rap through the ice gully, North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Andreas adjusting gear while Fred makes the rap through the ice gully, North Face of the Tour Ronde.

Fred happy with a nice descent.

Fred happy with a nice descent.

 

A few days after getting back to North America, Sarah and I found ourselves in Seattle with exceptionally nice weather, and figured that one more ski outing would be fun. On June 2nd we woke up early in Seattle and drove up to Tahoma (Mt. Rainier). Sarah climbed and skied the Muir Snowfield, while I decided that I ought to try and use any fitness gained in Chamonix to see if I could climb and ski Rainier quickly. I managed to go from Paradise to the summit and back in 5:08, which I was pretty happy with. Truly impressive however, are my friends from Squamish, Eric Carter and Nick Elson, who broke the Tahoma speed record a couple days earlier – Eric managed a time of 3:51:40, and Nick was on track for an even faster time before crashing and losing a ski. The day afterwards Sarah and I skied the Interglacier, on the east side of Tahoma.

Skinning up the Muir Snowfield.

Skinning up the Muir Snowfield.

Getting high on Rainier and still in a tank-top!

Getting high on Rainier and still in a tank-top!

I thought I was on the summit here... but then realized the true summit was a meter higher and 50 meters away.

I thought I was on the summit here… but then realized the true summit was a meter higher and 50 meters away.

On the true summit now.

On the true summit now.

Stopping the clock back at the Paradise parking lot.

Stopping the clock back at the Paradise parking lot.

Sarah getting back from a ski down the Muir Snowfield.

Sarah getting back from a ski down the Muir Snowfield.

You're probably not in The Alps any longer when you see a skin track this idiotic... A higher percentage of backcountry skiers in North America have only been doing it a few years.

You’re probably not in The Alps any longer when you see a skin track this idiotic… A higher percentage of backcountry skiers in North America have only been doing it a few years.

Sarah skinning up Tahoma's Interglacier.

Sarah skinning up Tahoma’s Interglacier.

Sarah skinning up the Interglacier, with Little Tahoma behind.

Sarah skinning up the Interglacier, with Little Tahoma behind.

On top of "Steamboat Prow," on the east side of Tahoma.

On top of “Steamboat Prow,” on the east side of Tahoma.