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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Seattle/Chamonix
    Posts
    67

    Talking TR: Bonatti Couloir, Italy

    Looking back on the season here in Chamonix, it's been insane how good of a winter it's been. There's been more snow in zee Alps than I've seen here in the past four years. The freeriding has been amazing and riding bigger lines in pow for a change has been awesome!

    Drew Tabke, Freeride World Champ himself, has been crashing on mine and Dave's couch for countless nights this winter and we were hungry for a mission with this awesome snow pack. I've been obsessed with the Bonatti Couloir on the Petite Mont Blanc all season and have been waiting for a good window to get back there. The couloir is almost 3,000 ft long and super wide, it almost seemed more like a giant face. It's directly adjacent from the super gnar of the West face of Mont Blanc. We saw no one back there the entire day except some people who were getting heli dropped at the end of the flat Miage. It was so nice to get away from the crowds of Cham. I'm sick of worrying about people either dropping in on my head or worried about sluffing people below me, back here there were no such worries. Only worries of rockfall and slabs, super! It's a fairly big day to do it in a day so we decided to stay at a hut to make the approach a bit easier.

    G7 in the Toponeige, Mont Blanc


    Sunrise at the Elisabetta Soldini hut.


    The easiest way to ski this couloir, in my opinion, is to stay at the Rainetto bivouac atop the Petite Mont Blanc and drop in from the top. When we got back in the basin the weather was horrible so we decided to stay under the clouds at the lower hut. When we woke up the entire approach to the up and over way was solid ice so we decided to boot straight up the thing.


    'Merica! The snow seems super stable and shreddable!


    W Face of Mont Blanc across the glacier, behind the clouds.


    2.5 hours we got to the point towards the top where the route splits and gets steeper. I'd been making hasty pits the whole way up and was getting no results. Though when we got higher I was getting an 8 inch and a deeper sheer slab result. This kind of creeped me out so we dug a couple pits on different aspects of the face, getting pretty much the same results everywhere. Drew and Dave thought it was "probably" ok and I was pretty sketched out at the time. Due to the uncertainty amongst the group we decided to retreat 300 ish feet from the top.

    Drew dropped in first and ripped huge GS turns down half of the face. Super clean, great snow, stable, confidence inspiring. Phew!


    Half way down the face the sun appeared from the clouds directly above the line, shedding a celestial light down the couloir. It was like the line to heaven.


    Then I did it. Then Dave did it. It was the "best steep skiing I've ever had"- all of us. Perfect snow that you could really charge.


    I was kind of bummed we didn't make it to the top but glad we had the balls to turn around. "If that was fail, I don't wanna win" - Davide De Masi One of the most magical descents I've had in the Alps. YEA!
    Last edited by BettyDee; 04-08-2013 at 08:34 AM.
    www.lizdaley.us
    @liz_daley

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Maine Coast
    Posts
    2,600
    A BettyDee trip report is always a treat. You sure are living the dream.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    942
    Super cool.

    I think I saw you in a laundromat in Cham but wasn't sure and the whole 'change for a nickel' thing woulda been weird.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Juxtaposition
    Posts
    5,815
    I love way the Glacier du Miage lets you get right into the guts of the massif. A great place in all seasons.

    Looked that that line a lot, even camped at the base. Never had the solo courage.
    Life is not lift served.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    221
    post holing in the middle of a coulior, harness but no ropes = gumby's got lucky

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3,456
    yay!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Seattle/Snowbird
    Posts
    1,007
    Incredible day out. One of the best, most aesthetic lines in the area.


    Quote Originally Posted by talus View Post
    post holing in the middle of a coulior, harness but no ropes = gumby's got lucky

    Please keep your JONG cuntery out of this thread.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    2,809
    Quote Originally Posted by talus View Post
    post holing in the middle of a coulior, harness but no ropes = gumby's got lucky
    Rope is in the bag, harnesses for glacier travel and possible mixed ground at the top. What Herb said.

    Thanks to Betty and Dave for the couch and coffee service - I'm lucky to call you guys my friendz.

    Tre le Tete from the rifugio.


    And other attractions of hut life.


    Dave heading up the Miage.


    Betty Boost AKA Liz Slash.


    In hindsight, its hard to say what made the run so special. We didn't top out. The snow was good but not perfect. But when I came out the bottom onto the glacier and looked back up at the line, our tracks winding down to Dave and Liz as they exited out the bottom as well, sunbeams lending a heavenly feel to the scene, a deep chord in my soul was struck by the experience. In short, a damn good ski. Lucky to have been bumming around the Alps this year.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Vanity Fair
    Posts
    2,687
    Good stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by BettyDee View Post
    Looking back on the season here in Chamonix, it's been insane how good of a winter it's been. There's been more snow in zee Alps than I've seen here in the past four years.
    Interesting, seems like there is less snow than last year here on the eastside. I guess you have been benefitting more from the current weird weather.


    edit: and a glacier Ibex! OMG rad!

    editedit: i am going to stalk you people on facebook now.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    221
    Quote Originally Posted by powdherb View Post
    Incredible day out. One of the best, most aesthetic lines in the area.





    Please keep your JONG cuntery out of this thread.

    Thanks.

    hahaha yup i'm a jong. do you even know who Bonatti was? or the group of climbers that famed Italy during his time? how to find snow covered crevasse or what a crevasse against a rock wall is called? nice pics though

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Vanity Fair
    Posts
    2,687
    Quote Originally Posted by talus View Post
    hahaha yup i'm a jong. do you even know who Bonatti was? or the group of climbers that famed Italy during his time? how to find snow covered crevasse or what a crevasse against a rock wall is called? nice pics though
    you're right. they're americans. they probably think it was a first descent and that the line was named after a kind of local alcoholic beverage. also, they can't ski. you should keep talking.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    4,342
    BettyDee, Drew - a heartfelt thanks for sharing your stoke and gorgeous photos. Awesome way to start the day.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Chamonix/Franconia, NH
    Posts
    1,483
    Keep up the cham stoke!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    denver
    Posts
    1,864
    great line, beautiful setting
    I can't believe you are a rando racer because I look so much better in Lycra than you.

    People who don't think the Earth is flat haven't skied Vail.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Seattle/Snowbird
    Posts
    1,007

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Estes Park
    Posts
    844
    Damn. I dream of making it to this place even if all I get to do is stare at the mountains. Looks like such a great place to be. Props!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Vancouver - BC
    Posts
    340
    Very nice. Thanks for sharing!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    21,069
    Anything associated with the name Bonatti you know is going to be good. This TR did not disappoint.

    Ignore tallus he is just the shit that piles up a the bottom of great lines like this.

    Thanks for a great TR.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    F'n Midwest again
    Posts
    2,107
    thanks for the write-up and pics
    molto bello!
    Aggressive in my own mind

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Fresh Lake City
    Posts
    3,079
    bonatti would be proud!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Vienna/Austria/Europe
    Posts
    225
    congrats! great line, great pictures
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    NW of xtal mtn
    Posts
    573
    Strong work guys
    "In the end, these things matter most: how well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?" - Buddha

    "Come back alive, come back as friends, get to the top-in that order." -Mark Twight

  23. #23
    Hugh Conway Guest
    nice ibex

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Carbondale
    Posts
    10,025
    Very solid work!!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    1,399
    Great line: thanks for the inspiration.

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