Today I skied the Valley Blanche, which is dubbed to be one of the most famous off-piste ski descents in the world. Who knew. The descent is 20km long, dropping 2700m. Late season snow has made the descent fairly simple even though the ski travels down typically crevassed riddled terrain. Simon, who I met here in Chamonix, knew the ski quite well, and he had done it many times (several a week). The ski starts from the Aiguille du Midi and finishes near the Montenverse train station when the winter snow has melted out.
Simon and I started by taking a casual lift to the Aiguille du Midi, catching a 9:00am tram (cable car). This takes you 2000m up from the Chamonix valley, where tourists and climbers mix together for the views, before tourists head back down. From here we descended down onto the glacier. Skiing off of the Midi platform was a nice wake up, after laying low for a few days. It was definitively a no-fall zone, as a fall would have put you back at the valley floor.
As you can tell from the above photo, the views from here were completely world-class. More than anything else, the ski tour provided both the chance to see what routes are in given the recent weather conditions, and to understand the layout of various peaks of the Mont Blanc massif.
Simon and I continued skiing down after looking more closely at the Triangle du Tacul and planning our climbing for the next day. The skiing takes you further around the valley, where you can see the full impressive face of Mont Blanc du Tacul.
Our tour continued down the valley, showing views of the Grand Jorasse, Les Drus, Les Aiguilles Verte, and Les Enverse des Aiguilles – each a dream for climbers by themselves.
Nearly done with our adventure, we did what you can only do in the Alps: de-skied, then climbed ladders up to the train station, which took us back to Chamonix. Overall the day was such a great way to start feeling a bit more comfortable in what is such a large complex geographical area so far from home.