Monte Rosa – East Face – Marinelli Couloir 16.04.2007

4454 m ; 2500 m 40°- 45°, pass 50°; East ; TD ; 5.2/ E3

The Marinelli Couloir is the longest corridor in Europe and split in two the impressive East face of Monte Rosa, also known as the “Himalayan face of the Alps”.
It is every freerider and good skier dreamline.
Despite the fact the local mountain guides are trying to transform it in a commercial line, guiding clients with the help of the helicopter, me and my finnish friends Jobo and Sami decided to ride it in a more etical way.
We drove to the beatiful village of Gressoney from which we used the lifts till “Passo dei Salati” and from there skinned and climbed up to Gnifetti Hut where we spent the night.


Punta Indren, on the way to Gnifetti Hut
We didn’t sleep a lot that night cause the strong wind but we decided to give it a try anyway.
At the sunrise, like very often happen, the wind stopped to blow giving us a great motivation to climb the last pitch.


Sunrise, almost at col del Lys


Colle Gnifetti, getting ready to drop into the face

I was enjoying the wilderness and silence of the place, tasting the great lunch i would have had within ten minutes at the top of my dreamline when all this alchemy was broken up by the noise of an helicopter just appeard from the abyss in front of us.
It dropped four skiers then left just the time to pick up and drop other four skiers.
My friends went mad and started to run quick to drop into the line.
At the same time the guide of the group walking towards me told me “guys take it easy, you climbed up here, you deserve the first line!”


2500 m under our feet!


Into the face

Was not exactly how i have imagined it but here i am, alone dropping into the biggest face i have ever seen.
I won’t forget the feeling of be alone for few minutes on that line.
One third down i met again Jobo, waiting for me and we joined Sami few hundreds meters lower down.
The snow was fantastic, deep compressed powder the upper part and perfect smooth spring snow lower part and we skied the line within 30 minutes, included the time we stopped to take pictures.
We had the luck to ski all the couloir to the bottom while often it is impossible cause the big avalanches falling down from the seracs above.


End of the steepest part of the run, the narrow couloir near “Le Rocce Grigie”


Jobo Metsis


Sami Haapasalmi


Me


At the bottom of the face…we still have 1000m of difference to ski!

After have stopped to eat something at the bottom of this unbelievable face we skied down other 1000 meters in a narrow gully and on a narrow stripe of snow on the right of the valley sheltered by the sun.
Arrived at the bottom of the valley we had a quick bath in the river and changed our mountain stuff with flip flops, shorts and t-shirts.
Enjoying the deserved beers and a good pizza in the local restaurant we waited for the other party to come down.


The Crew! Left to right : Sami Haapasalmi, me and Jobo Metsis

At this time another big trip was starting for us, 250 km were separeting us from the car.
It took us 7 hours to go back; got a lift on the car of the mountain guide of the group came down after us, took 2 buses, 2 trains and found another lift from a friend that came to pick us up at the bottom of Gressoney valley.
It has been a real trip, a great adventure with good friends!


Waiting for the next train


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