Many trips down the Vallée Blanche • January, 2008

The amazing descent of the Vallée Blanche is simply too attractive to resist when one lives under the shadow of Mont Blanc. After a couple hours of work on the computer in the morning, there is still time to enjoy the tour and be back in time for the "cocktail hour".

In the month of January, we made a number of such journeys, and I have lumped together a bunch of them on this page.

Other Recent Trips

The upper part of the route is often swept by wind, either from the north, or, as is the case here, from the south. As the soft snow gets blown away and moved around, one must do a bit of strategizing to find the best skiing.

Descending the arête in the blowing snow. Things can sometimes be a bit slow when the weather is difficult.

On this particular descent, the wind strengthened as we got lower. By the time we were at the level of the Requin hut, the ground blizzards were quite impressive. We had to wait for a lull just to be able to see the next few feet of snow in front of our skis.

The next few photos are from an outing we did with our friends Heather, Ramsay, Tim and Maurice. A gorgeous day, just after a good snowfall.

Tim Ramsay and Kathy on the Aiguille du Midi cable-car.

The top of the Aiguille Verte, from our arrival at the Aiguille du Midi. There is still a bit of clearing storm, but soon the weather turned wonderful.

Kathy and Heather descending the arête.

Tim, enjoying the snow.

The group waits for me to get into position to take a few photos.

Kathy, nearly lost in the deep snow.

Maurice. He's on tele gear. Our only clue is how far in front of his body the little wave of rising snow begins.

Heather, going wild.

After all the steep and deep above, we have the long, pleasant glide down to Montenvers.

The crew on the Montenvers train. Amazingly uncrowded!

Here is another busy day on the Arête. On this sunny day, we joined Ramsay and Heather to ski up the Glacier des Périades, across from the Requin hut.

Another group, skinning up above us under the cliffs of Les Périades.

Heather and Ramsay emerge from the shade.

Enough of this uphill work...!

Kathy, under the Dent du Géant. The last photo here, of this descent.

And another ride up the Aiguille du Midi. This photo was taken by sticking my camera out the tiny window in the cable car.

Mont Blanc from the mid-station of the Aiguille du Midi lift. The summit proper is just out of view to the left.

Today, the wind is blowing from the north.

Partway down, we stopped to watch some Swedish skiers on a casual photo shoot. This fellow is checking out the jump off the serac.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) while he was peering over the edge, a snow-border skied the edge of his nice soft landing slope and triggered an avalanche that took away his landing zone. You can just see the top of the fracture line. So, he and his friends decided against the big jump and moved to a slightly less intimidating drop. Here, one of the group takes off down the very steep slope.

Things seem to be going reasonably well, though his skis are in a slightly odd position here. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come?

Indeed. Not exactly the landing he had envisioned, I think. But good for the cameras. He was fine in the end.

Lower down, Kathy on something a bit more our speed.

On this descent we took a line we had never skied before, close to some big crevasses, but fun skiing all the same.

Coming down to the Requin hut, directly above the Géant icefall.

And one last descent. This was another with Heather and Ramsay. Here, another group crosses a scenic bridge.

Ramsay, skiing down into the cloud.

Kathy, right behind.

We stopped a the Requin hut for a coffee. Ramsay, looking all too serious, Heather and Kathy.

Crevasses, from the Requin hut.

Ramsay skiing down the slopes below the hut.

Almost down to the lower Mer da Glace.

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