Yves, Jimmy and I met up in Argentiere for an epic afternoon’s training up on the Grands Montets. Our main goal: to practice skiing together roped up. Of course we also wanted to get lots of vertical into the legs too!
The Argentière region is stunning, and setting off from the village on skins, I could tell this was going to be a special outing. We set off at a medium speed, which I was thankful for as I’d been ill all the week before with flu, and had done 2300m vertical over the previous 2 days to get back into shape. We quickly got up onto the glacier, and once over the first flat part we roped up to get some practice of zig-zagging our way up the hard snow whilst connected together. Kick turns on steep slopes with ski mountaineering skis are always a bit of a challenge, but when there’s someone on the end of the rope pulling you in a different direction when you don’t expect it, well, it’s an extra challenge! However we quickly got a rhythm going and did well.
Sadly we had to stop just 70m below the summit because the patrollers were lowering a piste machine down the steep slope on a cable, which is very dangerous. Still, it didn’t matter as we’d done huge vertical (2000m) and got lots of practice with the rope. Now we had to ski down the mogul field roped up! We quickly got into the swing of it, keeping some rope slack in one hand and paying it in and out with the other. You have to put your sticks on your backpack if you’re second or third in line as you need both hands with the rope, and you have to be so careful not to ski over the rope. Once you’re gone over it and it’s got tangled around a ski, imminent disaster awaits! We managed well though and successfully got all the way down without any spills.
Once off the glacier it was time to pack the rope up and head on down through the mountains of slushy moguls. Great fun, and tough on the thighs! Then off for a quick drink together before heading home. A fantastic afternoon all round, and a good workout too.