Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Pow was let's Tour

Well the snow finally decided to fall in abundance at the tail end of January so the skinny skis went away for a little while and made way for some brilliant pow skiing. A trip to Alagna in Italy was well worthwhile as well as a jaunt over to the tiny Champex(still my favourite place to go for pow tree skiing) and also the usual trips up to the midi mid station(Plan D'Aiguille) the scene of the best skiing I have ever had when last season myself , Lorne and Graham pretty much lived up there for weeks skiing untracked powder day after day. The excitement of the fresh snow has slowly eased off and I now find myself back on the rando(ski touring) set up.

Ahhh Powder
And a bit of a navigation error with Stokes!
Dont' you just hate queues on pow days?
Yeah us too, that's why we ski Plan D'Aiguille. No hassle at all.
The rando fitness seems to taking shape and I am pretty effortlessly blasting out Les Houches climbs and Brevent home run ascents in reasonable enough times and more importantly not really feeling it in my legs once at the top. I ain't really one for number crunching but here goes... I am usually up the Brevent home run in 45-47mins but I have never really given it a proper all out go to see just how quick I can get up it. Les Houches I can do the climb(880m) and descent in a total of 1hr 4mins sticking to the piste and not taking the forest track which is actually in great condition right now if you want a more scenic way up and also if your going up during daylight hours to avoid the skiers coming down. I usually head up Les Houches in the evenings after work so just stick to the piste which on the way down if it has just been groomed is an absolute joy for descending with the headtorch on.

More Horrendous powder queues at Champex
Loriaz Chalets
I have also been up to the Loriaz chalets yet again. I love this area as it's always really quiet and safe to go alone so it's a place I frequent often this season on bad weather days. It's a really mellow skin all the way up and I can crack out a pretty good near jog on the skis for most of this ascent.

Watching the World Skimo Champs in Verbier.
Very very impressive stuff at the sprints.
Myself and Graham had a great lunch break the other day and managed a fairly rapid Crochue Berard Traverse from Flegere to Buet in 1hr 14mins. Timed from Floria drag lift to Grahams car which we had stashed the night before in Buet. The Crochue Berard is a very easy but a nice beginners ski tour in the Aiguille Rouge which I have done too many times to remember over the years. I wouldn't do this kind of tour now on my days off as I prefer to do bigger things but cracking it out during work lunch hours isn't really too bad! The Aiguille Rouge is a place I have explored a lot over the years in the summer when out running and now I have my very light touring set up I am all ready for stable weather to now go and explore more of it on my skis.

Some/most days I like to cruise but occasionally I get
the urge to have a bloody good go at it. Today was
one of those days.
I love the midi side of the Cham valley but the Aiguille Rouge is so often overlooked by those who want the steep and the dangerous which is fine by me as it means the Rouge is nice and quiet if you pick the none popular tours. I quite like the no glaciers , no seracs , no crevasses aspect of the Rouge. The only real danger up in there is the Avalanche risk that you get anywhere and is all part of skiing. Nobody is invincible no matter how much you know about avalanches but I just find the Rouge so much less hassle to go away for a day touring. I will still be going up the midi this season for sure but at the moment I just want long link ups in the Aiguille Rouges so long as the weather allows.

WARNING! Tights.
I stuck on my trail shoes the other night and actually went out for a bit of a leg stretch. Nothing major. Just an out and back by the river from my house to Cham. It's about 16km and all went fine. The track isn't great right now with lot's of refrozen footsteps to concentrate on but it will soon flatten out. It was nice to get back out for a little run and I felt pretty damn good on it.

What do you do when you
destroy 3 pairs of Salomon Sense in a summer...well
you get 3 more. All set for summer 2015 now.
For me the real Chamonix running comes in summer once most of the snow clears and you can get up high and across the awesome ridges that surround the place. Winter running here is fine and running through powder can be quite fun but skiing powder is way way better. I guess I will be out running a bit more often from now on and maybe from March get the trail shoes on way more in prep for Transvulcania in May but at the moment I really think the touring legs are keeping me strong.

February is a bit of a hectic time with work and with only one day off a week this month I will be making the most of that one day. Fingers crossed for sunshine as I want some BIG tours!

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