Couloir de la Passerelle o Cunningham: (3800 m, 60 m rappel from the bridge), 400 m 50°- 55°; West ; TD ; 5.3/ E3
West Couloir : 400 m 45°- 50°; West ; TD ; 5,3/ E3
After a great day spent in deep powder in the Cosmique, I was pretty motivated to go to the West couloir, no one had been this year so the idea to go to have a look really appealed to me.
The top of Glacier Ronde looked pretty icy so I suggested to Nicklas the alternative entry from the bridge of Aiguille du Midì.
This couloir rarely has good snow in it. Mainly due to its position with the sun coupled with a strong west wind and the fact that the people working at the lifts clean snow from the bridge and then throw it down the couloir.
I threw a couple of stones in it to check the snow conditions and they disappeared into deep snow so we decided to go.
Unfortunately once you have rappelled into it you are forced to go down because you have passed the point of no return and the snow was not as good like it looked.
In the central gully the snow was quite deep but really narrow, narrower than skis and a board. On its sides were 30-40cm walls of crusty/icy snow, impossible to ski.
We had to decide either to downclimb or sideslip on the right bank outside the gully. We already had skis and board on so we went for the second option and sideslipped through all the narrow section. Thankfully lower down the snow became a bit better allowing us to make some turns.
I was pretty sure that in the West couloir the snow would have been much better because it is sheltered from sun and wind and I was right
My friend didn’t want to go so I did my best to make him change his mind.
The exposed traverse above the big serac was overloaded so I belayed him opening the track.
The entrance this year is a bit trickier because of a thin narrow layer of snow between rocks and ice, the exit however is a bit easier with only a 2m icy step that we easily jumped.