Pointe Picheuru 3000m
Who needs bottomless powder....
Finally managed to get out on the split board today. Bud and I packed up the car and left for Val d'sere with a rough idea of climbing La Tsanteleina. We were stoked to be finally getting out touring but this was quickly stamped out when we reached the bottom of the south facing mountain which had zero snow on it.......Gutted.
After a quick look through the guide book we decided to try and find a north facing aspect just outside Val. We eventually found the turning and again were greeted with a col that had no snow. Decision time, do we just head to Tignes and skin up some pistes or do we take our chances and hike up the col in the hope there is snow over the other side. Obviously our adventurous side prevailed and so began the long slog up the dirt with all out gear on our backs.
At the top of the col our gamble had paid off, we found snow! So out came the skins and we started to explore. We found a road that led towards a high alpine dam. After around 20 mins of skinning we were greeted with wild Chamois standing guard on the high cliffs, I've never seen them so close. They are kind of intimidating, staring at us the whole time as if we were trespassing on their ground....which i guess we were.
We reached the dam and decided to hike a small couoiur to get a few turns in. At the top Bud decided to do some rock climbing to see what was over the top of the couloir, he came back asking how my legs were feeling to which i lied by saying fine.
After a few short metres of clinging to a rock face we got to the top and were greeted by more massive mountains! I couldnt believe it.
We had some much needed lunch, met some french tourers who we then decided to follow.
The next few hours were some of the harder touring i have done, poor snow cover mixed with solid ice in places meant split board crampons were attached ( these are a must have for split boarders)
It was steep and technical. My legs were shot. Bud on the other hand is a beast, i told him to carry on as i didnt think i would get to the summit. So off he sped disappearing into the snowy distance.
I got a second wind and scrambled my way across rocks, which is very hard with crampons attached, and made it to just below the summit.
Just as i was about to give up, Bud appeared on top of the peak and shouted down some abuse/banter....enough to give me a third wind and scramble my way up more ice and rock...across a ridge and to the summit. Pointe Picheru, 3000 metres.
I was stoked, the view was incredible and that usual feeling of achievement was over whelming. We even got some fresh turns off the summit, an added bonus to what was already an amazing day of exploring.
My fitness levels wernt the best, and i struggled at times but stubbornness won through.
It goes to show, having and adventurous spirit brings about the best times in the face of adversity.
Total height gain - 1300m
Summit - 3000m
Views over the whole alps - Priceless
Ive been a bit quiet for the past month due to coming back from New Zealand and spending some time with my family, and then moving out to France and getting ready for the coming winter.
Ive been in France for a few weeks now, working far too much and haven't had anytime to get out on the board. While there is more snow then this time last year, we aren't getting the dumps that they are getting stateside.....but its early days yet, winters are now starting a lot later in Europe. Im still confident we are in for a good winter. People love to moan about the lack of snow, but it will come and the way i see it is that you just have to put that bit more effort in to find what we do have.
SoI thought I would review my current Splitboard setup.
Never Summer Raptor
My current split is by made by the boys in Colorado. They are know for their unmatched build quality and ingenuity. Ive always loved Never Summer ever since buying my Proto 5 years ago, I feel that they represent what I love about the industry. Their branding is understated and isn't all about having a high profile Pro Team, its about the people who work on the mountain and in the industry who need a board that will stand up to 100 days a winter for many years.
My Never Summer Proto has been ridden in some shocking conditions and while it has needed some repair work, it's still going strong. This is testament to the quality of these babies.
My Raptor isn't a normal factory splitboard. Never Summer used to do a thing where you could choose any of their boards and they would remake it as a custom splitboard....which is how my Raptor was born.
It has the hybrid camber that all NS boards have, rocker between the bindings with camber underfoot. What this means is that you have the benefits of rocker when in the soft stuff, but the stability of the camber when landing drops. It does mean that when in touring mode you have a slightly smaller surface area but this is fine once you get used to it . The base is insanely fast and durable and edge to edge its very responsive. It's a stiff board, and paired with the Karakoram K clips means that even on piste it holds together well and rides almost as well as a solid board.
Ive tested on pretty harsh New Zealand snow conditions and now i'm looking forward to using it here in Europe on some long tours. So there we have it, Never summer..............Go buy one!