February 18th 2010

Aiguille Verte - Couturier couloir

The valley cragging has been great so far but once in a while you do find yourself pining for a long alpine route. This winter has been pretty poor for conditions up high so we opted to a quick climb in the form of the Couturier Couloir to the summit of the Verte and then ski back down the south side. I think the Verte is probably the peak I have failed the most on, so here was an opportunity to ascend it via an easy route and actually stand ontop of the thing finally.

The Couturier itself is in pretty good condition. Expect some laborious trail breaking for the first few hundred meters but by the half way point it is not too bad. The summit ridge on the other hand is another matter. Whilst we enjoyed a great day out on the ascent, it became quickly clear that the descent was going to be a bit of a nightmare. The ridge alone from the summit to the top of the Whymper took nearly two hours to descend (a distance of only 150m)- the snow pack was horrible. Think wind slab ontop of powder ontop of hard ice and you get the idea.

The Whymper itself was a mixture of thick slab and bottomless powder which made for alot of wading on the raps. All in all it took us something like 7 hours to get from the summit to the bottom of the Whymper, which is pretty mad considering the fact that it is only 700m height loss.

All in all a much longer day than anticipated but we got to try out our new approach skis for their intended use which is always fun….

Will on the Couturier with the Chardonnay and Argentiere behind

On the upper third of the Couturier

Summit- note the bad weather that had by now surrounded us

Finally at the top of the Whymper

On the ski descent in a partial whiteout and falling snow

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book