Yannick and his ski cronies from Patagonia Europe are stormin' the steeps again. While denizens of our beach hut (Patagonia Ventura) have got spring surf on the brain, and the tribe at the desert mountain outpost (Patagonia Reno) are stymied by the all-to-quick disappearance of the snowpack, our friends at Patagonia Europe are proving that sometimes the best way to enjoy the spring is to get as high as possible. For these folks, that means summiting the 4248m (13,937 ft) Mont Blanc du Tacul, a scant 45 minutes from the Patagonia Europe offices.
Below, is a rough translation of the trip outline. The full post (in the original French) can be found on his always image-rich blog, Team Dré Dans le Pentu. Like Yannick would say, "Point 'em straight down!"
April 27, 2008: Mont Blanc du Tacul on skis.
By Yannick, Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 13:26
Category: "Going Out"
Beautiful morning forecast, with the afternoon becoming overcast and the snow up to 3000m rotten . . . the choice: Mont Blanc du Tacul.
Our start was early in the morning (5h Annecy), because of reservations, the telecabins were already full Friday. Three employees of Patagonia were smart and decided not to store their skis too fast:
— Evelyn – Direct Sales Manager (who made the most photos below).
— Guillaume – Marketing Assitant (télémarkeur, his first time at 4000m).
— Yannick – I.T. Systems (myself).
[Top: Guillaume and Evelyn on the descent from the Auguille du Midi's top station (approx. 12,800'). Above: Looking toward le Mont Blanc from the top of the Auguille du Midi, only 3,000 more feet to climb. All photos: Yannick Clèvy]
We made sure not to miss the first shuttle to the top, since bad weather was forecast to return in the afternoon. With the telecabine, it's possible to reach 3800m without effort. After that, the climbing begins.
We spy the objective and trace our route to the top. The crevasses and seracs seem to go well.
There is black ice everywhere on the triangle. No skiing there today.
The snow stiffens higher up and soon it's time to switch to crampons.
The final push toward the summit is difficult with the packs, but beautiful.
Above 4000m, near the summit, the clouds and wind start to return.
And the skiing begins in powder, with only a light crust on top.
It's pretty good, but the thighs are not necessarily very active in making beautiful turns ;). Here, Evelyn is in the powder.
Guillaume is still in force with telemark style.
We're soon in the Vallée Blanche, and the legs really start to feel it!
The Gervasutti is here. Look at all the passages in ice.
Classic! Spring snow just as it should be!
And at last the train ride down at the end of a tiring day.