Anul acesta am petrecut mai mult timp pe schiuri decat o fac de obicei. Recunosc, nu este pasiunea mea numarul 1 si in ultimii ani am cam neglijat-o, asa ca sezonul acesta de iarna m-am hotarat sa-i acord mai multa atentie si exercitiu. Ca ghid am avut multe zile de off piste – dar am schiat si pentru mine, activitatea aceasta e chiar “fun” mai ales daca se intrunesc conditiile bune de zapada… si anul acesta s-au cam intamplat.

Saptamana trecuta la Chamonix am fost “ochi si urechi” la cateva trasee de alpinism dar dupa doua zile de ninsoare si conditii in general seci (fara gheata pe peretii de stanca) am considerat ca n-ar fi deloc rau sa-mi indrept atentia spre o tura de schi. Am acceptat propunerea lui Alex Lungan  de-a merge sa schiem Culoarul Barbey de pe versantul nordic al lui Aiguille d’Argentiere, si mi-a placut in mod deosebit pentru ca stiam ca va fi o tura lunga, cu mult schi dar si cu o urcare pe un varf de 3900 m.

S-au alaturat echipei Ionel Suciu si Fabrice (un francez cu splitboard) si miercuri  (05.04.2017) dimineata schiem printre nori spre Refugiul Argentiere. De aici usor la stanga am inceput urcarea lunga pe Glacier du Milieu spre creasta somitala a Aiguille d’Argentiere. Putina zapada “puf” asezata peste o crusta de gheata i-a creat probleme lui Fabrice la urcare pe splitboard si a renuntat la tura. Pe portiunea finala de urcare, la trecerea rimayei, am pus schiurile pe rucsac si am continuat urcarea pe clapari in zapada proaspata. Norii au inceput sa se raspandeasca iar varfurile de vis-a-vis se afisau limpede in fata ochilor: Les Courtes, Les Droites, Aiguille Verte. Pe mine ma nelinistea un singur gand: coborarea pe culoarul Barbey era abrupta, 45 grade si cotata S5. Gradul nu-mi spunea nimic, nu stiam ce inseamna, iar inclinatia vazuta prin ochi pe alpinist e mica, pentru schi insa… nu-mi puteam face o idee exacta. Sus pe varf am facut pauza de ciocolata si selfie-ul de cuceritori :). Se vedea foarte frumos de aici, spre Franta si Elvetia. Este un varf relativ usor de atins, are aproape 4000 m, si chiar recomand o ascensiune pe el, merita toti banii.

Am identificat culoarul de coborare usor, era chiar sub noi, si apoi am gasit un loc pe unde cornisa era intrerupta si ne permitea accesul in el. Ionel, cel mai experimentat pe schiuri a intrat destul de tare. Nu mi se parea chiar atat de abrupt, insa era expus, 700 m de abrupt care se termina cu cateva crevase impresionante, iar portiunea de intrare era inghetata bocna. Am incercat sa am incredere maxima in canturi si cu emotii am inceput un derapaj de cativa metri, apoi o traversare expusa la dreapta, un viraj prin saritura executat stangaci si apoi o intrare intr-un culoar ingust, printre stanci. Marfa! Am supravietuit. Putin mai jos culoarul devenea mai larg si incet incet mi-am recapatat increderea si am inceput sa leg mai multe viraje. Portiunea inghetata a trecut, la fel si emotiile, iar bucata mediana si cea de jos a fost o placere de coborare, prin powder. Am reusit sa-l filmez pe Alex care a efectuat cu senzatie cateva tumbe si apoi pe Ionel pentru care terenul abrupt parea sa fie locul perfect de joaca. Intrati pe Glacier de Saleina (in Elvetia), ne-am oprit sa punem pieile de foca si am inceput sa urcam spre NV in Col de Chardonet. De aici a urmat o lunga si superba coborare inapoi pe Glacier d’Argentiere si apoi pana jos in oras, pe partia care se golise deja de schiori.

Daca Culoarul Barbey a fost o provocare interesanta pentru mine, intreaga tura in sine a fost un obiectiv deosebit in care au predominat coborarile lungi, prin zapada buna. Despre peisaje vorbesc imaginile. Merci de tura Alex si Ionel :)

[EN]


I have started this year spending more time on skis than I usually do.  Frankly, it’s not my number one passion and in the recent years I somehow managed to neglect it. Therefore this year I decided to focus more on skiing and exercise it more.  As a mountain guide, this winter I spent many days in off piste and I did some tours for myself as well just because this activity is so fun, especially when good snow conditions occur… and this year we had plenty.

Last week in Chamonix I kept an eye on the conditions for some alpine routes but after a couple of days of snow and general dry season for the alpine environment I considered moving my attention to skiing at least for one more day.

I seriously took into consideration Alex Lungan’s suggestion of skiing the Barbey Couloir on the North face of Aiguille d’Argentiere since I liked the idea of a long day out with lots of skiing and also a nice climb on a 3900 m peak.

Ionel Suciu (another Romanian-Chamonix friend) and Fabrice (a French on a split board) joined the team and on Wednesday morning we started skiing towards Argentiere Refuge in a cloudy weather. From this place, slightly to the left we started climbing on the Glacier de Milieu towards the top of  Aiguille d’Argentiere.  A thin layer of fresh snow over an icy surface made Fabrice’s progress slow and annoying, he slipped a couple of times with his split board and decided to bail the climb.  On the final section of the climb, from the bergschrund onward we put the skis on the backpack and continued the climb on foot through fresh snow. The clouds began to scatter and the peaks from behind us became more and more visible: Les Courtes, Les Droites, Aiguille Verte. I was uneasy only about one thing – the ski descent on the Barbey Couloir was steep, 45 degrees and S5 grade. I didn’t have any clue on what this grade meant, the slope as seen through a climber’s eyes was easy, but from a skiing point of view I had no exact idea how it would feel.  On the summit we had a chocolate break and a funny selfie time. The view towards Switzerland and France was awesome. Aiguille d’Argentiere is quite an easy summit to reach, although it’s almost 4000 m high, and I recommend climbing it, the view is worth every penny.

From the summit ridge the couloir is easy to notice, we checked for a spot were the cornice was missing and would allow us to descend underneath the ridge. Ionel, the most experienced of skiers among us, got down quite straight forward.  For me, the couloir didn’t seem too steep, but it looked definitely exposed, with a fall of about 700 meters which ends with a couple of “good looking” crevasses. Also the entrance part was hard and icy. I tried to get full confidence in the ski edges and started by side slipping for a few meters, then I made an exposed and icy traverse to the right, followed by a lousy jump turn and then some more slide slipping in a narrow and rocky couloir. Good job! I did’t get myself killed :).  Lower, the couloir was wider, I regained my confidence and managed to link more turns. The icy section was over and so was my stress, for the middle and lower part the snow was perfect for a nice descent.  I managed to film Alex at the perfect time, while he gracefully tumbled into the snow a few times and then Ionel who seemed to handle this steep terrain like his familiar playground.  At the bottom we entered the Saleina Glacier (in Switzerland), stopped and put the skins on for the last climb of the day towards NW to Col de Chardonet. From here we continued with a nice descent to rejoin the Argentiere Glacier and then a long way down on the ski slopes to the town.

Barbey ski05

Back on the Argentiere Glacier @Ionel Suciu

The Barbey Couloir was an interesting challenge, but the overall tour was even more worthwhile with long descents  in good snow conditions. Thank you Alex and Ionel for the fun day out.