The end of winter is always a bitter sweat thing time to wax and put away the skis but the pleasure we get from the mountains as the snow recedes and the spring flowers push through. Maybe I am unusual but I don’t want to let go until I absolutely have to so when a client said he fancied skiing Mont Blanc in May I thought great I will have someone to keep skiing with.
As it was the when Matteo arrived the weather forecast for the week was pretty pants 2 perfect days followed by rain snow and wind for the rest of the week. With only 2 days of blue bird we needed to make the most of them. We wanted a high peak that would give us a great skiing and something a bit special for those last alpine turns of the season.
We decided to head for Mont Velan sitting on the Swiss Italian border at just under 4000m with some great glacier skiing and a really cool hut we thought it would do the job nicely. The only disadvantage to skiing at this time of year is that you have to walk to the snowline, 2 hours with skis, boots, stove and food on our backs (the hut was closed so were self catering in the winter quarters) put us at the snowline then an hours skinning and we were at the hut. The guardian had finished for the season the night before and gone down so we had the place to ourselves. With just the three of us (fellow Dynastar UK Ambassador Mike Austin had decided to join us) in hut designed for 60 we had the rare opportunity to spread out and enjoy the magnificent views of the Grand Combin and our objective for the next day.
When the alarm went at 0345 we stuck our heads out to a perfect ceiling of stars, we were skinning across the glacier by 4.30 the pool of light from our head torches the only man made light we could see. After an hour the glacier steepens so we had to out on ski crampons, this lead us to a rock band that bared access to the Col de la Gouille. Skis on our backs and the rope out we followed some chains and climbed to the col, then more chains down onto the glacier on the other side. As we gained height the view just kept getting better and better from the summit the panorama is genuinely 360 from Mont Blanc to Monta Rosa then south to the Paradiso and all the way to Monte Viso.
We didn’t linger on the summit as we wanted to get the snow at its best a short slide on easy snow then a bit of careful choice of aspect gave us some awesome turns on perfect spring snow in the high 40’s. Cruising down the wide open glacier with big fast was awesome, it was all going to fast. There were 2 choices on the lower section of the route down a couloir onto the Valsorey glacier or back over the col. We could see there had been a big avalanche gone down the couloir and the lower section looked like we would have to ski through loads of debris so we climbed back over the col and made a short abseil onto the snow.
With a different aspect we got the snow just right with creamy spring snow all the way to the end of the snow. A perfect way to end the season in the Alps now its off to Norway to wrap up the winter.