UKC

/ Video: Aiguille du Chardonnet, West-by-South-West

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Pete Houghton - on 01 Mar 2018

Evening everyone, just thought I'd share a short film from a great day's skiing I had recently. There's a little bit of lens fog thanks to some temperature differences we found throughout the day, but I don't think it's completely unwatchable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYbQlCaLZdo

On Sunday 25th February, 2018, I had the immense pleasure of skiing this awesome line with two friends, Mikey Arno and Teague Holmes. We are fairly sure that no-one has been back to this absolute belter of a line on the Aiguille du Chardonnet since Vivian Bruchez and Kilian Jornet made the first descent on Christmas Day of 2015. Joining together the upper section of the West Couloir, the well-hidden Trident Couloir, and the lower section of the South West Couloir with a little bit of downclimbing (if you are Kilian and Vivian) or rappelling (if you are not), a few fairly-spicy sections of dry skiing, and an unforgettable passage of spelunking, this descent has no real name other than the Armand, Charlet, Devouassoux, Frison-Roche 1925 Route. But I think West-by-South-West sounds nicer.

"It's not too steep," Kilian had said at the time, "But it's pretty exposed..."

I had made an attempt on this route with Mikey back in January, but after swimming up the South East Couloir through bottomless snow, and following an additional few hundred metres of ascent over the Col des Rachasses when the Grands Montets top lift was closed for convalescence after Storm Eleanor, we summited just before sunset. Exhausted almost to the point of delirium, we simply couldn't face the idea of enduring the inevitable ropework in the dark, so we skied back down the South East... never a bad backup plan.

This time, however, with bootpack machine Teague Holmes along for the ride, we made the summit in perfect time, just as the thick veil of clouds that had swamped our ascent parted, leaving a clear blue sky from horizon to horizon, and a sea-of-cloud temperature inversion two thousand meters below us.

The line runs for about 850m of involving terrain before you reach the slightly easier ground on the Trident Glacier, and for the most part it is somewhere between 40 and 45 degrees, but with a few noticeably-steeper sections of closer to 50 degrees. We made 3 rappels, one 30m and two 15m, and there were a few patches of dry skiing to keep life interesting.

To see a few pictures of the day, have a rummage around in our instagram accounts, Teague especially has a stack of them all together.
https://www.instagram.com/petehoughtonchamonix/
https://www.instagram.com/mikeyarno/
https://www.instagram.com/teagueholmes/

 

Cheers dudes, have a great day.

 

Music: Act - Snobbery and Decay, in hommage to Greg Stump's Blizzard of Ahhhs

kipman725 - on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to Pete Houghton:

Nice video, looked spicy!

James Jackson on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to Pete Houghton:

Epic - nicely done!

thommi - on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to Pete Houghton:

Absolutely awesome stuff this!!! when you gonna start working on the mohawk? Or are you gonna go with the stars and stripes suit?? :-D

Pete Houghton - on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to thommi:

> Absolutely awesome stuff this!!! when you gonna start working on the mohawk?

Started work on it about ten years ago, just need to glue it up into place... I've been meaning to give it a go for a while now!

 

Cheers dudes, it was a pretty smashing day.

James Jackson on 12 Mar 2018
In reply to Pete Houghton:

> Started work on it about ten years ago, just need to glue it up into place... I've been meaning to give it a go for a while now!

Black and white wax.  Worked a treat in my mohawk phase!

 

Pete Houghton - on 12 Mar 2018
In reply to James Jackson:

Thanks for the recommendation, but I've always been more of a fan of wood glue on the odd occasion that I've done something extravagant with my mop... good hold, durable, cheap, and it washes straight out.

I've also heard of people using sugar syrup, but, after fifteen years of working in kitchens and having my fair share of caramel burns, this idea just seems odd to me, and a great way to attract wasps.


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