Monday, 8 February 2016

John's birthday treat.

John's birthday is tomorrow so we planned an off piste day with Alex Perrinet, a mountain guide who we have known for about 15 years.  He suggested the Toula Glacier which is just above Courmayeur on the  Mont Blanc side so it was a 7.30 am start from the St. Paul bar to get the first lift.  The old 3 stage lift has been replaced with a state of the art lift which revolves.  Gordon pointed out that the lift stations were all bolted together like meccano so could be moved.  It is fantastic.  Anyway, at the top there is a walk along an iron way to the snow, then you put your skis on to ski up to the top of the iron staircase which you have to walk down.   I gave up counting the steps down but there must be about 200.  As you can see from the following photographs it is very steep.  The last bit is a terrifying climb down a ladder (about 20 rungs) which is vertical and wobbles.  It was quite a relief to reach the snow.  And that was another challenge as it was more breakable crust than powder.  In this photo of John it looks better than it felt.  We skied to the middle station and got the lift down.   Some people skied down but Alex said there had been an avalanche and the last part you had to ski Avalanche crud which is not fun.
So after that we went over the other side where there far too many people on the pistes for our liking.  Sadly the top lift was closed because of wind so we could not do a long run back down to the valley as planned.  However, we skied some couloirs and found some lovely powder.  At the bottom we had to ski out along a stream which was very challenging, with rocks and bumps and nasty surprises.  Still, we all survived.
Alex had booked lunch in a lovely restaurant and told the patron that it was John's birthday so we got VIP treatment, such as some cured meats including chamois, which tasted very gamey.  Alex also bought a bottle of wine and though I don't usually drink at lunchtime and particularly not when skiing, rules are made to be broken.  
So it was a challenging day but great fun.  And none of us hurt ourselves as the last time I skied the Toula glacier I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament.  But that's another story.

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