I Just guided the Vallée Blanche today, and some Courmayeur off piste yesterday. It was part of a little bit of work for Smart Mountain Guides, run by my friends and colleagues, Miles and Liz Smart.
Conditions in Courmayeur were OK, and we noodled around and found some decent powder in the Val d'Arp, and skied from the summit of the Arp down into the Val Veny via a wonderful, chalky couloir.
Today, the conditions in the Vallée Blanche were "adventurous". High winds following the last few storm systems seem to keep wrecking our higher elevation powder and turning it into a field of thought provoking Sastrugi fields. Bring your "variable conditions" skis!
The good news with any adventure, though, is that it doesn't have to be "all about the skiing". A 20km ski descent down the Vallée Blanche will often have some difficult conditions in it somewhere. That's just the fact of ski mountaineering. On the plus side, the ski trail from the Buvette to Chamonix is in great shape and will be for some time to come.
Our journey down the ski run took us through a cloud cap near the Aiguille du Midi, around the Gross Rognon (where we finally found a little powder!) and down across the Salle de Manger, where we found ourselves to be some of the only skiers to ski the Vallée Blanche today!
Looking back up from the junction of the Lescheaux Glacier and Mer de Glace was spectacular. Plumes of wind-blown snow stretched away from the tip of every exposed terrain feature.