Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir

Following another dump of fresh snow, some sunny high pressure has rolled into Chamonix and with it some excellent conditions for ski touring. After chatting over a couple of ideas with Joel, we ultimately decided to head over to the Aiguille du Tour to check out its Table Couloir. The couloir is a classic of the Mont Blanc massif that neither Joel nor I had done before, so we were both psyched to check out something new and hopefully ski some good snow too.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (2 of 16)

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (3 of 16)The tour starts in the Argentière basin with a climb up to the col du Passon. As always, the views in the basin were amazing. Conditions for both climbing and skiing are still looking a bit dry on the north side, but a lot better than they were a few weeks ago.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (4 of 16)

Joel bootpacking up to the col du Passon.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (5 of 16)Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (6 of 16)Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (7 of 16)

After a 600m ascent to the Col du Passon and a traverse across the Le Tour glacier we arrived at the base of the couloir. We were a bit disappointed to see a rock band in the middle of the couloir but hoped there might be a couple of dry ski options to get past it. In the end, the rock band was bigger and steeper than it looked from afar and unless you’ve got some Vivian Bruchez style skills, a 20m rappel or downclimb is currently necessary. I’d recommend the rappel option, but make sure you bring enough rope for a 20m rappel (choosing to save weight by carrying only one of our two 30m ropes for the bootpack was not a good idea!). Also, bring a few wires/pitons/tat to back up the sling anchor we placed; it’s not particularly bomber.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (8 of 16)Joel enjoying the climb through the rock band. The combination of loose rock, unconsolidated snow and spindrift kept things interesting.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (9 of 16)Joel grateful to get hold of a second axe.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (10 of 16)

After passing the rock band, we were relieved to find the snow was really good. Hard work on the ascent though!

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (11 of 16)Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (12 of 16)Joel about 50m from the top and psyched to be about to ski the couloir! His smile soon disappeared as the snow got far, far deeper. We were soon wading in chest deep powder and getting to the top required some serious trench digging.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (13 of 16)Finally, the descent! With smooth, compacted powder all the way, we couldn’t have had better conditions.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (14 of 16)

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (15 of 16)Joel working his way towards our anchor on the right bank.

Aiguille du Tour, Table Couloir (16 of 16)

After a quick rappel we joined the normal Col du Passon ski descent back down to Le Tour. This was also in excellent condition with high speed powder skiing for the entire 2000m back to town. A perfect way to finish the day!

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