Winter 2015


Les Marécottes and the Col d’Emenay – 8th February 2015

Once over the Col de la Golette from Marécottes, straight away if feels like the back of beyond. From here via a back-country route you can ski out, almost directly back to the valley, so its nice to add a ski-tour to the journey. We toured up to the Col d’Emenay to ski back down, as the traverse of the col was not in a great condition.

A short skin then a boot-up…the col is relatively accessible from the ski lift

Skiing in a wild location beneath the Tour Salière

A spectacular tour up towards the Col d’Emenay

Sorting kit at the col

The ski descent with the Dents du Midi beyond

The final skiing section beneath the reservoir de Salanfe


At last…the Vallée Blanche has both enough snow, and visibility! – 3rd February 2015

This year we’ve had a relatively dry start to the winter recently followed by a week or so of blizzards… so finally it was great to be back at the top of the Midi arete looking out at a promising Vallée Blanche descent. Still a little windy but good to get fresh tracks down the upper section.


 Heading up towards the Bel Oiseau – 28th January 2015

Above the Swiss village of Finhaut a snowy cwm lies with access to a handful of touring journeys, all that involve a big climb but with the potential of some great snow on the north facing slopes.

The first half of the ski-tour takes you up out of the forest to the alpage level

Round the corner is the big slope that leads evetually to the summit of the Bel Oiseau

A good slope for getting used to doing kick-turns

The cloud and weather came in soon after so we returned to ski back down the mountain

Several pitches of great skiing…

… and lots of space to perfect those powder turns..!


Croix de Prélayes round trip – 23rd January 2015

Above Martigny, this accessible ski-tour that has a bit of everything: some pleasant touring up through a forest up onto the open hillside, a boot-up section to reach a small summit, steepish skiing off the summit followed by a great descent down a different flank of the mountain.

Above the sea of cloud…

Booting-up the ridge for 30 minutes, crampons and axe needed here

The ridge continues at a slightly easier angle

A great situation at the summit

Good snow to be found in an amazing, exposed location

Many more turns to go as we headed down towards the forest

An early Crochue-Berard Traverse, through the Aiguilles Rouges – 6th January 2015

The Aiguilles Rouges range complement the higher peaks of the Mont Blanc massif by offering many adventures for the ski-tourer without being on glaciated terrain. With some simple mountaineering usually thrown in, the ski-touring journeys travel over a col or two, and seek out the back of beyond and hopefully some good skiing on their north-facing slopes. Today I was skiing with fellow guide Kathy, and Dominique just happened to be there, to appear in some of the photos… and to take them also!

Heading up the first section of zigzags above la Flegere

The first section of skiing, down from the Col de Crochue

Looking back at the first col, furthest left on the skyline

At the second col, Col de Berard

A great ski down the upper valley, looking on to the mountains in Switzerland

Still a bit of walking to do… back through the forest to the train at le Buet 

Last day of 2014 – Happy New Year for 2015!

Cruising high above the Chamonix valley

Early season adventures – Christmas 2014

December 2014 had been particularly dry, although fortunately snow conditions high up permitted ski-touring, and having the Grands Montets and Helbronners ski-lifts on your door step always helps. Each small amount on new snowfall really helped having fun in the mountains.

First of all myself and Peter travelled to the Grand St Bernard car park which gave easy access to a reasonable snow cover. Heading up to Mont Vélan can be a big day, but we’d have to leave the distinct couloirs for another, longer day. However a ski-tour up into the basin below to the Col d’Annibal was a definate possibility.

The west flank of Mont Vélan, Valais – enough snow for a tour and a ski…

A great day for ski-touring….Photo: Peter MacKenzie

…the snow’s starting to look a bit crusty…!

Skiing the crust was interesting… but consistant, and fun!

The Helbronner lift on the Italian side of Mont Blanc is always open and folk had been exploring the area a fair bit over the previous 2 weeks. Although the last snow had been a week ago, the snow cover on the Toule Glacier and below still allowed us to ski to the mid-station with no walking – always a bonus!

Heading round to the top of the Toule descent

Interesting access to get to the glacier….Photo: Peter MacKenzie

Mostly compact snow on the descent…

Glacier skiing on the upper Toule Glacier….Photo: Peter MacKenzie

…and a bit of powder…

…in a fantastic location

A few days later we were joined by a couple more in the team, and the Grands Montets seemed like the best bet. Not too much powder yet (about to arrive the following day) but a great environment to get in loads of mileage.

Setting off from the top Grands Montets platform…

… a great place to find some air!

Sweeping down the north flank, beneath the Aiguille Verte

Always great to be skiing in the sun!