Monday, 13 April 2015

Swiss route on Les Courtes

The sound of the squeaky névé is so pleasant to the ear and yet, every time I try to explain to someone what it sounds like, we end up discussing animal rights. Go figure.

North face of Les Courtes. Swiss route goes pretty much straight to the sun.

We planned to leave for Cham on Friday, but it didn't work out, because I was busy with work. So we decided to take the first train on Saturday. Well, midway the trip Frieder realized he didn't pack his
crampons. But when he bought a shiny pair of Petzl Darts I was almost jealous. At least Saturdays are universally recognized as shopping days.

We ran into the next challenge at the top of Grand Montets. The weather was overcast, and the smell from the café was very tempting. Somehow we managed to get the junkshow together and skied down to the base of Les Courtes. A fair bit of shoveling later we settled into our sleeping bags for the night.

We set off just before 5, crossed the bergschrund easily and got onto the face proper. The conditions were absolutely fantastic. Plastic névé with a perfect stick with each swing. We climbed mostly unroped, tied in only for a short section where the ice was a bit thinner and steeper.
Steeper section
I was pretty much straight of couch, having not been to the mountains for quite a while. Understandably, I was struggling to keep up with Frieder and was doing some heavy breathing. But what completely broke my heart was when he said how nice it was to move at this "conversational pace". Oh well, need to get in shape.
Frieder speeding up
Chardonnet and Argentiere across the valley
Final steep section
Steck'ing it up the summit slope. Mont Dolent in the background
We got to the summit at 10:30 and took in the views of GJ and MB. Never have seen the massif from this perspective before, I was very impressed just how pretty it all was. The descent via NE slope was a breeze since the snow was just the right softness for us to move down fast. We packed down the tent, skied down to the valley and hopped into the 3 o'clock train connection to Zurich. Such a fun outing!

Pretty nice view from the peak. Grandes Jorasses and Mont Blanc
Frieder on the summit
On the way down 
Les Droites, something for the next time

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