I have now been back in Chamonix for slightly over a week, and before starting on the next round of big projects (skiing the Haute Route, big walls in Verdon…), I have been making good use of the current warm spell in the Alps to get some early rock climbs. Of special note was the Contamine on the South Face of Aiguille du Midi, a 200m pillar of perfect granite I had been eyeing for years. Despite being at an altitude of 3800m, the temperatures were so hot that we could climb in T-shirts!
But last weekend changed things with a sizable snow dump. It won’t last long, but I jumped on the opportunity and headed up Aiguille du Midi this morning to ski Vallée Blanche – for the third time this week. Like most people, we ended up on the steeper “True Vallée Blanche” variation, as the classic route would have involved a lot of stalling in deep snow. Conditions were perfect high up, with deep, untracked, light powder and a crazy glaciated environment.
And since I don’t like doing things halfway, I also packed the D700 and 70-200 f/2.8. This proved especially interesting when I faceplanted in deep snow early in the descent, but this is after all why I pay a premium for pro equipment, and the camera performed flawlessly despite being caked in snow most of the time. Good light, interesting features and lots of skiers making new tracks made for some great photography, and I had (almost) as much fun shooting as I had skiing down. The different choice of lens also allowed me some experimentation with compositions and atmospheres, and I really like some of the results.
Here, then, are my favorite shots from the day.