On June 6, steep lines specialist Gilles Sierro, based in Heremence Switzerland, managed to open a new line in the north face of the Blanche de Perroc, in the infamous Val d'Herens. The perfectly shaped mountain face can be seen from far away in the valley where Gilles live. As you go up the road, the large white triangle catches your eye from a distance. It looks nearly vertical and Gilles knows it is still virgin as only two attempts to ski it failed. In 2010, he tried himself but couldn't nail the steep part below the summit due to bad snow conditions. And in 2012, another skier went there, but didn't succeed neither.
The face access is pretty remote. From the valley below, no cable cars what so ever, so the only way is to start early and hike up the first 1000m between forrest and rock fields. The remoteness of the face certainly adds some difficulty, but it also adds a special feeling to the project. Once at the base of the north face, it looks really wide and big. The line seems pretty clear in Gilles' mind as he wants to make sure he goes as direct as possible from the very top, without the use of a rope at any point. Two very narrow and steep sections seems to be the crux of the descent. That late in the season and in such a steep environment, the snow sticks to the mountain, firm and compact. Gilles puts his crampons and goes up at a fast pace. He climbs exactly where he intends to ski down later on in order to check the steepness and feasibility of it all. He carefully checks the crux and measures the slope. 57° at its max and very exposed with a blind roll. But the conditions are great, so once on top, Gilles straps his skis on. Off he goes.
The first 100m in the triangle below the summit is a perfect warm up, not too steep. Then starts the blind roll and the very demanding section. Gilles skis without any hesitation. Solid on his skis he leaves the narrow chute behind him to enter the lower half of the face. The slope goes back to a more reasonable 45 degrees, which looks like a kids run after the super exposed upper section. Gilles cruises his way down until the very bottom, a large smile on his face. He just nailed to most direct line in the north face of the Blanche de Perroc, one of the very last first descent project that was still to be achieved in this very popular part of the Alps.
Now its time to go back down and celebrate as this success coincides with the birthday of the skier... nice present!