After no new snow in Chamonix for over two weeks and the sun blazing down on the snowy peaks for what has felt like an eternity, there was only one thing for it this week… to grab those skins and get touring.
Ski touring used to be seen as a hobby for the more, how shall we say this, aging skier, but things have been changing rapidly over the last few years. Keen skiers of all ages have been sampling the delights of shuffling up hill, eager to get away from the crowds and into the wilderness.
This week I was proud to be part of a group of six young, female skiers out to try and ski some spring snow in Chamonix. With not a man in sight, we headed up to the top of the Grand Montets ski area in the small cabin, which brings you out at 3275m. We then clipped into our skis and descended down into the Argentiere basin, with the Col Tour Noir as our target.
Skiing with a group of girls, all of whom can ski pretty god damn well, is always a lot of fun. No testosterone to deal with, although stereotypically quite a lot of chat! This was definitely the case as we regrouped on the glacier to put our skins on and start the log flat skin across the basin before we peeled off left and started to ascend to the col at 3500m. As soon as things got a bit steeper, and the higher we got, the normal 100-mile an hour chat started to subside. Once acclimatised the Tour Noir is not complicated, and the views you get are out of this world, but with it being one of our first high altitude ski tours of the winter, it was tougher than I remember!
For this particular tour my weapons of choice were my Cham Woman 97s with a Look pin binding. Although not a super light touring ski, they are still light enough for a 2 – 3 hour ascent and great in corn snow. Once we reached the peak, we took in the views of the other side, where you can see into Switzerland, with Verbier and the Matterhorn easy to pick out. Once we had re-fuelled it was back on with the skiers for a fantastic ski down in the spring snow, which we caught just at the right time before it got too slushy.
As we descended back through the glacier it was back to gossiping and looking back in satisfaction on what we had just ascended and skied. For me, spring skiing is about getting away from the crowds and skiing with friends, and quite often this is a group of girls – a perfect day out to ski hard and get all the latest news from the Chamonix Valley!