Jerry, Jeff and Rick in the Vallée Blanche • March 6, 2011

Jerry Minzel and his friend Rick Billingham of the Seattle area joined us in 2007 on a Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. This year they came over again, this time with Jerry's son Jeff, and all of their wives (Vicki, Judy and Lori, respectively) for a week of on and off-piste skiing. They hired Kathy (and Mark of course joined in as "official" photographer) for a descent of the Vallee Blanche.

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Judy, Rick, Vicki, Jerry and Jeff, taking in the sunshine and the views on the summit of the Aiguille du Midi.


From this top viewing platform the view of the ridge descent is always a bit ... daunting.


But of course once under way it's just another tromp in the snow (sort of).


Jerry and Kathy check out the route.


In the background are the Grandes Jorasses (far left), its ridge extending westwards to end at the spike of the Dent du Géant. The smaller peaks along that same ridgeline are Pointe Helbronner, the Grand Flambeau, the Aiguille de Toule, and the Aiguille d'Entreves.


Even several days after the latest snowfall, there was still some un-tracked snow to be enjoyed in the upper reaches of our route. Jerry makes his mark.


Rick also carves his initials on the blank canvas...


Ditto Jeff.


Things get a bit busier and more cut-up as the various roads converge lower down.


The view is still spectacular though, as Rick documents.


Jerry shows the "crud" who's boss. Actually the snow was pretty nice, though choppy. Tracks in the background are from skiers descending from the Italian side, from Pointe Helbronner.


No ropes needed to define the edge of THIS "piste".


Lovely smoked salmon at the Refuge du Requin.


And the Crème Fraîche aux Myrtilles! Mmmmm.....


The view of the Drus, Aiguille Verte and the amazing peaks along the ridgeline eastwards; the Moine in the foreground, and the Mer de Glace flowing beneath us.


Another group escapes the crevassed section below the "Salle à Manger", and begins the low-angle glide down what Kathy calls the "moving walk-way" section of the Mer de Glace.


We leave the peaceful glide of this section to "whoop-de-doo" in the dry (at this time of year) bed of the melt stream that drains the surface of the Mer de Glace in the summer melt season. Jeff keeps it together through the sinuous S curves!


Light effects in the ancient ice of the stream bed. No matter how many times we descend this route, we always are awed by its beauty.