'Grim' was my first thought of the day. The alarm called. It was still cold and it was still windy. The Sans Nom face at our backs had come alive in a worrying way from the winds slamming in to it, and the avalanches coming down it weren't inspiring us to set foot on the thing for the next two days. 'Bail' was my second thought of the day.


Dan heads in to the Sans Nom

Its been a tough winter for Alpine; brutally cold, windy and snowy. An excellent year for skiers, a hard time for climbers. Still, you've got to at least try. The short weather windows have been poor to say the least with cold temps and strong winds but after my last outing with Tim on the Swiss I decided that the weather man isn't always right and it's worth at least trying. The Sans Nom was on the big list of 'fails' that I'm totting up so far, it turns out the weather man is more often right than wrong. Nevertheless walking back from the Sans Nom we felt that it was worth heading up the following day before the next storm set in.

Dan at sunset with the Dru and Mont Blanc behind

View from the bivy...cold night though

Dan suggested a new line he had seen in the Envers. Amazingly I've never done a winter route in the Envers before and with no better suggestion we went for it. Talking to Andreas Fransson in the lift the following morning we took his advice and headed in for the Ice is Nice area instead. With no topo to guide us we figured we'd just pick whatever looked best from the bottom. 

Having barely seen any other climbers in the mountains this year I was ecstatic to see a fresh track heading in to the area. Win. On catching up with the two climbers I was surprised to see that one of them was an old friend of mine Hamish Dunn. Small world. 

An obvious line on the right, what we would later find out was the Sorenson-Eastman, was looking very inviting so we steered towards the thin pacage and excellent looking streaks of nevee.

What followed was a fun uber classic Chamonix day out. Nice nevee, fun mixed, good pro, and some fast romping terrain. The sunset on the Verte behind us and the full moon ski descent in excellent powder was the icing on the cake. Just goes to show that you've got to at least try...thankfully the weather man was wrong on this day. Roll on the next mistake!

Myself heading up the first placage pitch, © Dan Joll

Dan cruising up perfect ice on the second ice pitch

Looking down on the team below on the second ice pitch...Greg and Hamish

Looking down on the team below on the second ice pitch...Greg and Hamish

More endless squeaky nevee, © Dan Joll

Delicate climbing just beneath the top of the route, © Dan Joll

Monster Cornice!!


Full moon over the Vallee Blanche and Aiguille Verte

An easily recognisable silhouette of the Chamonix Valley