With high pressure continuing to dominate it was time to get out and swing the tools with flatmate and Scottish climbing partner Sandy Simpson. Leaving the house were greeted with -12C temps but in the sun on the Midi all seemed more pleasant. This was Sandy’s first time up the Midi on skis and first ski approach to a climb. His 3 weeks of dedicated ski practice had payed off and we were quickly down to the foot of the route. Another pair joined us and to our relief were headed to Modica Noury leaving us to enjoy the route without added hazards. Starting off in the sun it was pretty warm but as we climbed into the shade it steadily got colder throughout the day and despite maintaining a good temp my hands were getting pretty parky while leading the final steep pitch.
The high wind the previous week has stripped back the snow and polished the ice which became more like iron the higher we climbed. Placing a screw almost needed and ice axe to turn it in!
Rapping down was the usual stressful experience. I bounce tested all the anchors, pulling out a peg on one, snapping the cord on another. Another team had been climbing below us and one of the anchors they used was a booming flake of doom so we used an abolokov. After passing that team on the raps it was a relief to get clear at the foot of the route and away from any falling rocks (and get my belay jacket back from Sandy as the temperature was dropping fast!). The sunset alpenglow over the Periades was absolutely stunning and worth being there for that alone.
Sandy’s first valley blanche was to be a mostly night run. The lack of moon was compensated by a decent headtorch and skiing strongly we descended rapidly enjoying looking at the stars around the peaks. Near the Requin hut my girlfriend phoned to see where we were and pulling my phone out of my chest pocket it was sheathed in ice as perspiration from climbing in the morning sunshine had frozen solid.
At the buvette we looked down to the pretty street lights of Chamonix before zipping down the track. To our surprise we came across a couple of guys walking down with their skis with no torch or backpacks. The valley blanche had probably been a bigger adventure than they had anticipated.
Thanks Sandy for a great day.