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Liz Daley

[TR] Chamonix - Trappier & Pointe Inférieure de Tricot: Couloir NE 3/29/2014

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Trip: Chamonix - Trappier & Pointe Inférieure de Tricot: Couloir NE

 

Date: 3/29/2014

 

Trip Report:

It felt like full on summer until it dumped again in Cham about a week ago. Enough of that sunny splitter we'd been climbing, that shit's too enjoyable, time to suffer in the mountains. Alas, winter conditions returned to the Alps with freezing levels back down to the valley and massive dumps up high. It was going to take a lot of snow to cover what three weeks of sun had done to the snowpack though. I was pretty pessimistic at first, when our first day out, back at the Helbronner there was a foot of blower on crust with wind slabs and scary crusty snow beneath the surface. The Finn's scraped their way down the cable face, knocking off chunks of windslabs in a white out, in a you fall you die, it slides you die zone. They're so core. This was entertaining until our tits started to freeze off so we downloaded and went for pizza. Caroline Gleich photo:

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I decided to give the snow a bit of time to bond to those old layers then we went to shred the Trappier on the Aiguille de Gouter. I've ridden this line twice in the past 5 seasons but this time was all time, perfect pow on the approach and impeccable snow in the couloir. The approach a never ending traverse, across three big bowls, a bootpack up a avalanche prone couloir and more traversing to get to the entrance of the couloir. My first season I tried to do this on my approach skis and had an epic fail. Ended up walking almost the entire approach in crampons. http://www.lizdaley.us/Liz_Daley/Trip_Reports/Entries/2010/4/10_Couloir_Trappier%2C_Chamonix_France.html

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Dave Searle. Check out his site for awesome beta or to book a guide: http://www.chamonixtopo.com

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Cool view of Chamonix from down valley that I don't see much.

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It looks good, Ross Hewitt about to rip the *hit outta it! ~8,000 vertical shot to the valley. Probably about 6,000 of that being really good riding, the rest is an epic uphill bushwhacking traverse in manky snow and dirt. "Not that bad", the skiers say, ha.

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Ross shredding pow:

 

We saw this super sick looking couloir on the approach to the Trappier, across the Bionassay Glacier. We almost changed our plans to go out there but decided to save it for the next day because we didn't have the necessary equipment to get that rad. So, the following day Dave, Powdherb, Ross and I decided to go for it. It was a new zone for me, so I was stoked! The Pointe Inférieure de Tricot, Couloir NE is about a 1,500 ft couloir, rated 5.1 in the Toponeige book. NE facing, kind of blocked by the Mont Blanc so it hopefully didn't get much of that southerly Foehn wind and it's pretty sheltered so we didn't think there'd be dust on crust in this coulie.... um. We were right.

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After a climb, a traverse over a couple moraines and a couple changeovers we were on our way to the base of the couloir. Away from the Chamonix crowds in complete solitude, with only the massive serac jungle above our heads that extends all the way up to the sommet du Mont Blanc, 8,000 feet above us. Beautifully dramatic zone. We traversed above to the major compression zone of the glacier, out of the fall line of the unpredictable, deteriorating serac's. As we approached the bottom there's a big cliff where tons of sluff was shooting down past the bergshrund into the apron. We quickly got over the shrund and across this zone. Davide De Masi photo:

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Happy to be out of the front-pointing sections of the middle of the couloir, hard men, Powdherb and Dave Searle about half way up the line. Ross Hewitt was sending it with his home-made Verts which he engineered from a stollen road-block barrier or... "Spanking Paddles" as they've dubbed them. To contact Ross about how to make these or see his awesome photos check out his site: http://www.rosshewittblog.wordpress.com

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Me approaching the top! Davide De Masi photo:

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We continued up a steeper, narrow and shaded northerly aspect that would take us to the sunny col about 100 feet above. We started sinking into facets which made climbing super difficult and pretty sketchy, so we decided to drop in from there. Me, well below the choke. Snow's even better than anticipated. SO. STOKED! Davide De Masi photo:

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Searle rippin' the middle portion. The couloir was never too steep but I could see how this line would be scary in bad conditions. Davide De Masi photo:

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As we exited the couloir we had to cross the compression zone full of debris. It looked pretty flat so I thought I could get some speed into it and get across it quite easily... I managed to charge over a ton of crusty debris then I got some weird vertigo and something happened... not sure what, but I ended up on my back downhill, turtling as I hear something cascade down a cliff. I was out of the main fall line but it still scared me. I squirted a bit then got on my feet and poled over to the boys. That was dumb. After a muddy skin back up to Les Houches we drank brews in the sun then raced the Kandahar track down to the car.

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great TR. a real hoot. lots of pics, and a quick entertaining read. i laughed good at the squirt, nice recovery.

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