Great Conditions For Motivated Skiers (week 19 & 20)
May Skiing Off Aiguille du Midi
Until the 16th of may snow kept falling above 2000m every afternoon in Chamonix and we enjoyed the powder skiing off Aiguille du Midi. Often the powder was waist deep and most days only a few people were up there. Even though most people in Chamonix have stashed their skis in the basement and oiled up their bikes and climbing gear, lots of enthusiastic skiers showed up in the weekend for a last powder feast – skiing was just too good! All possible lines on the west and north side of the Midi was skied as well as plenty of variations of the Vallee Blanche.
Ski Mountaineering Conditions
Once it stopped snowing the Mont Blanc massif got hammered with strong winds followed by more normal end-of-May temperatures. In the high mountains, north faces turned into chalky, compact powder and crust formed on the south faces. Depending on the exposure, ski touring during week 20 involved sleeping in huts and starting early to be successful.
We skied some great lines in the Cirque Maudit after sleeping in the Cosmiques hut, feeling fortunate to be in that area this quiet time of the year. The skiing all the way down to the Montenvers train afterwards is starting to become a hassle in the end though. However, the opening of the Panorama lift between Punta Helbronner and Aiguille du Midi is planned on the 28th May and easy access to the high Vallee Blanche area is guaranteed once again.
Ski Descent of Dômes de Miage North Face
For months now we have also been keeping a close eye on an impressive mountain face that you see every time you drive up to Chamonix from Sallanches; the north face of Dômes de Miage (next to the popular Metrier Ridge climb). Until now the 1100m high face has had patches of ice on it, but after all this snow in May it looked well filled in. This big face, that seldom in such good conditions, seamed like a great way to end the ski season.
To our knowledge we were the first ones to ski the face in the last two years (please comment if you know otherwise) and we were happy to find solid snow all the way to the top. The story and route description is well covered in our photo gallery from the ski descent of Dômes de Miage north face, as well as on the Norrona Blog.
Skiing in Chamonix in May is mostly enjoyable for the highly motivated, expert ski mountaineer. It requires lots of experience and patience – but when it’s good it’s good!
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- Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 at 8:00 pm