And another week flies by!
After an amazing week of full bore powder with my Backcountry Freeride group, last week I followed up with a Backcountry Splitboard Intro course.
The weather conditions were good but very cold at the start of the week as we got into some introductory Splitboard touring out the back of Le Tour, the snow conditions were a little mixed after some strong wind from the NE on Sunday but behind the col du Balm the snow was cold, fresh and untracked.
The descent off the Grands Autannes looked amazing and untouched so I noted it down for later in the week.
Tuesday we headed out for a big touring day with the classic Crochue-Berard tour. The conditions were firm and pretty tough for skinning and the wind was gusting a little as we approached the col du Crochue, not an easy first skin for those that had never skied before but everyone made it up the first climb in good time ready for the big traverse and then the 2nd skin up to the col du Berard. Here the wind speed increased dramatically and the chill factor really started to set in.
The snow was even firmer on this 2nd hike and the going was hard even with ski crampons, any tracks from the person in front were immediately covered over and in the end we resorted back to hiking on foot as the wind speed increased strongly. The tour had started to turn into a bit of a battle against the elements but the team dug in and soon we arrived at the col and set up for the ride whilst warming in the sun on the sheltered side of the col. Time was ticking and it was turning into a long day out but fortunately the snow on the sheltered side was cold, deep and fresh with plenty of room for fresh lines for all, a just reward for the effort of the hike and a great first Backcountry descent and superb day out. We eventually arrived back at Le Buet at 5pm, a long day, a tired but satisfied team and well earned refreshments in the bar!
On Wednesday the team were up for something good, I wanted to keep it quite simple with regards access and knew the descent off the Grand Autannes would be a good ride. With no tracks up the face, a sure sign of the fresh lines to come on the way down, we set off on skins until the steepness turned us onto crampons and I started to kick in a boot track to the top. Seth Lightcap from Jones snowboards and his girlfriend Alison, out touring Europe and collecting stories and photos for various articles, joined us for the trip (and decided to stay on for the rest of the week) and quickly became part of the team and helped break trail up to the summit.
The descent was in perfect condition, crystal light powder with no tracks anywhere and another perfect full speed descent. Everyone powered some fast deep turns whooping it up with nothing but big grins all around at the bottom as we exited out to Trient.
The forecast for Thursday was good so we Heli'd up to the Trient plateau for some Glacier des Grandes action. The wind had been blowing hard at altitude and so the conditions were very different to what they had been on the Friday and Saturday before when I had ridden both the Grandes and Petoudes variants. The upper reaches of the glacier were quite firm with wind slab, making for technical riding. As we reached the steeps halfway down though the conditions had started to change and the lower half of the run, sheltered from the wind, gave soft powder and fresh tracks for all. Another great mountain day and by now everyone was loving the splitboards going both up and down the mountain…
After a big week of touring we decided to have a riding day in Courmayeur for the last day of the course and so headed though the tunnel for a rip around the pistes, a quick sortie out into the Val Veni couloir and an afternoon in the trees to end another perfect week.
I have a BC Splitboard Freeride course next week! The weather is looking a little mixed and hopefully we'll get a bit of fresh snow to play around in..either way I'm looking forward to another great week of riding and touring.
I received a couple of smaller 161 Solution Splitboards last week so now have a better range of sizes for those 'vertically challenged' amongst us (that's anyone smaller than me!)
We can also now offer all McNab Clients 15% off Ortovox products so you should check out the web site and get in an order1 Check out my fav pieces such as the Haute Route packs, both 35L and 45L. Also check out the amazing 3+ transceiver and the Merino wool thermal range…very nice! If you fancy anything give Ruth a mail with your list and she'll pass it on to Ortovox.
The 15% deal off Jones Boards at TSA is still running, the Flagship is a life changer for sure, this is a board designed specifically for the type of riding that I love, fast, sharp, technical freeriding and steep and deep, this board handles it all. The Hovercraft is also worth a close look, the most fun board that I've ever ridden…I've got a 160 Hovercraft Split on order straight from Mr jones himself, can't hardly wait to try that one…Again if you're after a Jones board give us a shout and we'll get you a hook up.
There's also something new (product wise) in the pipeline that I'll be able to disclose at the end of the week, something I'm very excited about and that will be on offer to you too...Watch this space!!!
That's all for now, I've a couple of video clips to release once I've finished editing them so keep an eye on the McNab Snowboarding Facebook page or check out my Youtube channel 'mcnabsnowboarding' for all the clips so far this season.
Bring on the snow!