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Col Supérieur de la Tour Noir – NorthEast Face + Grand Lui – West Face 05-06.04.2011

3690 m ; 300 m 48° ; NorthEast ; D+ ; 5.2/ E2

NorthEast Face of Col Supérieur de la Tour Noir

Summer arrived in the Chamonix valley (a few months early) with temperatures soaring every day.
The snow was no longer re-freezing overnight and all the big lines of the Massif were in horrendous condition.
Stubborn as we are, Cedric and I decided not to give up on this sorrowful winter just yet and set off for a two day tour, exploring a wild corner of the Massif where we had never ventured before.
The idea was to hit some of those amazing small lines, the ones normally too far to bother reaching when there are good conditions closer to home.
If you don’t expect to find good snow, you enjoy what you find on the way, and in two days we really experimented with every kind of snow imaginable, even more varieties than I knew existed!
After having skinned up the Améthystes Glacier we climbed the South couloir of the Col Superior de La Tour Noir with the aim of riding the beautiful East couloir above the Swiss La Fouly Valley

At the top, we quickly realised the damage that had been done by the wind. The snow was horribly crusty and wind affected so we decided to take the second option, the smaller Northeast face on our left where we found some rather decent snow

Me, getting the party started

West face of Grand Lui in the background

Cedric Bernardini

Our big goal for the next day was the beautifully aesthetic line on the North-Northeast face of Aiguille de l’Amone but, unfortunately, the snow on it was really crap.
Following an amazing night spent at the Cabane de l’Amone and having thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality and good food prepared by our host Martine, we decided to head to the West face of Grand Lui.

Cabane de l’ A Neuve

Great food and good company

Amazing sunset on Monte Emilius and Grivola

North Faces of Mont Dolent (left) and Aiguille de l’Amone (right)

We skinned and climbed up 900m and at midday we were standing on the scenic ridge in front of Mont Dolent, Aiguille de l’Amone, Tour Noir, Aiguille d’Argentiere.
The snow on the face was changeable but we had a pleasurable ride anyway

On the Grand Lui ridge with the nice northeast face we rode the previous day in the background

3509 m ; 300 m 43° ; West ; D ; 4.3/ E2

Grand Lui West Face

Good snow at the top

We crossed the long Saleina Glacier with the hot weather making us feel like we were crossing the desert.
Through the Fenetre de Saleina we accessed the plateau du Trient, with the intention of finishing our trip with the icing on the cake – the beautiful Arpette Couloirs.
Unfortunately, again, the snow was not great so we decided to ski down the right bank of the Trient Glacier where we happily found some good powder and spring snow.
Trying to avoid the compulsory exit passage under the scary serac, we took a right turn looking for the summer path which we eventually found after a long exposed traverse in mud, deep snow and bushes.
Our friend Tom Greenall came to our rescue in Trient with a ride back to Chamonix as darkness was falling.

Almost at the Fenetre du Saleina, all the glacier we crossed behind and the Grand Lui far on the left

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