Touring in to the Supercouloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul

Touring in to the Supercouloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul

February 20th 2013

Tacul - Super Couloir Direct

It was cold and windy outside the First Light tent. “Salopettes are awesome for this kind of weather” lectures Adam at 4.30 am, “but they’re rubbish if you have a wet dream”. Alpine partnerships are priceless and no more so than when in the company of funny man Adam George.

We’d come to do an alpine photo shoot for Adidas Outdoor and I’d opted for the Super Couloir direct on the Tacul. It was my favourite kind of shoot- a worthy alpine objective and two rope teams meaning no faffing about; just pure light and fast climbing photography. In keeping with the ‘speed’ element, Adam and I had headed up the previous day to fix ropes for a faster get away the following morning, and scratched our way up a very dry ‘direct’.

Adam seconding the First pitch on supercouloir Direct

Adam seconding the First pitch on supercouloir Direct

Adam on the second pitch

Adam on the second pitch

Adam on the last pitch of the Direct on Supercouloir Direct

Adam on the last pitch of the Direct on Supercouloir Direct

Adam does battle with the snowplug...

Adam does battle with the snowplug…

Adam 1, snowplug 0

Adam 1, snowplug 0

Night Night...

Night Night…

Nevertheless we got back down, met the rest of the group, and hurriedly crammed ourselves in to the First Light tent. As I desperately tried to warm my feet up I couldn’t help but feel it was more like Alaskan temperatures than anything European. So we talked the night away and I slept comfortably drifting in and out of the nightmare of clouds spoiling my photoshoot (how sad is that?!), whilst Adam spent the night worrying about having a wet dream.

It was windy the following morning; not a good omen for a feature called the ‘super’ couloir. But there were clear skies and we’d come for the sunrise shot, so at 6am everyone was on their way in to the darkness. Sunrise came and went and we got some great shots of Stéphanie Maureau and Maxime Thirvaudey on the Direct (keep your eye out in a couple of months for all the shots and video). Unfortunately, above us loomed the dark and cold couloir element of the climb- not a place that instilled huge excitement. It had been manageable in the sun but the shade looked grim.

Adam heads in to the cold depths...

Adam heads in to the cold depths…

Moving fast to keep warm

Moving fast to keep warm

Adam headed off and we simul climbed up as two teams snapping away as I went, trying to keep moving as fast as possible to stay warm. It really was a cold day out, -24 degrees in fact, and it’s not often that i’ll simul climb with a down jacket on all day.

Nice squeaky nevee

Nice squeaky nevee

Arriving at the final crux pitch we could hear the wind roaring above our heads somewhere. It looked like the scene from The Perfect Storm where he’s pointing out what happens when two weather fronts clash in to each other- the updraft from the couloir met head on with the downdraft and tons of spindrift from above. It was a maelstrom of shite up there. So naturally we pressed on and as I lost Adam in and out of the spindrift I did wonder at how ridiculous my job is sometimes.

Adam heading up the final ice pitch

Adam heading up the final ice pitch

Now you see him...

Now you see him…

...Now you dont

…Now you dont

The Super F*cking Cold Couloir

The Super F*cking Cold Couloir

My photo op point was of course in the middle of this spindrift maelstrom. It was ‘unpleasant’ to say the least. There’s spindrift and then there’s Super Couloir spindrift- after clearing my nostrils out and screaming in agony at the brain freeze I snapped the last few shots of the climb and called it a day. The team had put in an amazing effort in coming this far but enough was enough, at least we’d made it to the top of the ice.

Another excellent day out and some great shots and video in the bag. Thanks to Adam, Steph and Max for keeping going.

Oh god its coming! The fear...the fear!

Oh god its coming! The fear…the fear!

Shower anyone?

Shower anyone?

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book