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Old 11.12.2013, 20:52
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Skiing (Courmayeur)

I'm thinking of going to Courmayeur with my son (13 but a pretty good snowboarder) to freeride on the Mont-Blanc in February. Has anyone of you guys done it? Any advice?



Torino and Pavillon, on the right on the map:
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Old 11.12.2013, 21:08
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Re: Skiing

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I'm thinking of going to Courmayeur with my son (13 but a pretty good snowboarder) to freeride on the Mont-Blanc in February. Has anyone of you guys done it? Any advice?



Torino and Pavillon, on the right on the map:
Yes many times, there is plenty of glaciated terrain so you should go with an internationally qualified mountain guide. They are the only people that can legally lead people on a glacier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UIAGM
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Old 11.12.2013, 21:48
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Re: Skiing

Khm, actually I meant going only with my son, no guides. Or are guides absolutely mandatory there? Thanks for any info on this.
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Old 11.12.2013, 21:50
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Re: Skiing

Would you be really happy to live with the risk? Take a guide who knows the terrain and crevasses if going over a glacier, especially with a youngster.
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Old 11.12.2013, 22:00
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Re: Skiing

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Would you be really happy to live with the risk? Take a guide who knows the terrain and crevasses if going over a glacier, especially with a youngster.
dunno, it looks like a fairly easy terrain from the videos, etc.
we've done risky things before and we are careful and take it easy, no crazy stuff. I would mainly be concerned about finding the way back down to the station, although again it looks pretty straightforward there.

I would probably be ok with going with a guide in a group (a completely private guide for a day would be outside of our budget) but I expect that my son and I will be a lot slower than the others (we like to take it nice and slow, especially at a new place) so not sure it that would work out...
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Old 11.12.2013, 22:10
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Re: Skiing

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dunno, it looks like a fairly easy terrain from the videos, etc.
we've done risky things before and we are careful and take it easy, no crazy stuff. I would mainly be concerned about finding the way back down to the station, although again it looks pretty straightforward there.

I would probably be ok with going with a guide in a group (a completely private guide for a day would be outside of our budget) but I expect that my son and I will be a lot slower than the others (we like to take it nice and slow, especially at a new place) so not sure it that would work out...
Most guided groups are quite slow, it would be insanity to go on your own, you have no idea of the potential dangers. NEVER follow someone else's tracks, you don't know where they were going & may need to use ropes & have climbing skills etc. Snow boarders are in the greatest danger on glaciers as they often take the board off as it's easier to walk then fall through a snow bridge.

Route finding can be difficult, especially if the weather closes in, you also need to be prepared to spend the night outside if anything goes wrong, rescue helicopters don't fly in bad weather. I know someone who waited 3 days for a rescue.

About 150 people die each year on Mont Blanc, it's a dangerous place.

http://www.summitpost.org/mont-blanc...-deaths/808297
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Old 11.12.2013, 22:26
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Re: Skiing

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Most guided groups are quite slow, it would be insanity to go on your own, you have no idea of the potential dangers. NEVER follow someone else's tracks, you don't know where they were going & may need to use ropes & have climbing skills etc. Snow boarders are in the greatest danger on glaciers as they often take the board off as it's easier to walk then fall through a snow bridge.

Route finding can be difficult, especially if the weather closes in, you also need to be prepared to spend the night outside if anything goes wrong, rescue helicopters don't fly in bad weather. I know someone who waited 3 days for a rescue.

About 150 people die each year on Mont Blanc, it's a dangerous place.

http://www.summitpost.org/mont-blanc...-deaths/808297
thanks for your reply. I am sure it's a lot safer with a guide, yes. was just wondering about this particular freeride route. the deaths on mont-blanc, are they mainly of the climbers who go for the summit? or heliski riders getting into really bad spots? also, what's the procedure of getting a guide? (never done it before) is it possible to join a group? how far in advance arrangements need to be made?
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Old 11.12.2013, 22:32
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Re: Skiing

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thanks for your reply. I am sure it's a lot safer with a guide, yes. was just wondering about this particular freeride route. the deaths on mont-blanc, are they mainly of the climbers who go for the summit? or heliski riders getting into really bad spots? also, what's the procedure of getting a guide? (never done it before) is it possible to join a group? how far in advance arrangements need to be made?
Accidents can happen anywhere, the area is not protected from natural risks such as ice falls or snow avalanches, cliffs, glacier ice & crevasses. Plenty of snow borders die each year, I have lost friends who live in the area. Very little hell skiing as it's illegal in France.
Go to the guides office & make a reservation for the following day or so, when you have seen the weather forecast.
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Old 12.12.2013, 00:40
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Re: Skiing

jimk just wondering if you and your son have any backcountry equipment and training? As a start you could explore some local and less dangerous terrain and join some guided tours (maybe 125 - 150chf each) that are advertised via resorts amid mountain schools (google some) to gain experience and confidence
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Old 12.12.2013, 11:43
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Re: Skiing

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jimk just wondering if you and your son have any backcountry equipment and training? As a start you could explore some local and less dangerous terrain and join some guided tours (maybe 125 - 150chf each) that are advertised via resorts amid mountain schools (google some) to gain experience and confidence
Well I have a Mammut air-bag backpack. Wanna get a couple of transceivers too. I've never yet used any of the special equipment though. We've done plenty of backcountry in the 3 Valleys, etc. (nothing too crazy) so we're not entirely new to it. If we don't manage to get a guide I thought maybe we could descend from the middle station (Pavillon) and not bother with the glacier for now. Looks like that's mostly wooded terrain...
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Old 12.12.2013, 14:08
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Re: Skiing

You need to practice with transceivers & each person needs a shovel & probe. You have about 15 minutes to get someone out of an avalanche to have a good chance of survival. Calling rescue takes far too long, they usually find dead bodies .

Last edited by fatmanfilms; 12.12.2013 at 14:47. Reason: spelling
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Old 12.12.2013, 14:30
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Re: Skiing

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Accidents can happen anywhere,
When I was working in France 3 years ago a slide happened onto the "safe" blue run home, a bit shocked to come across it in the poor vis. Only injury was a ACL of some one who skied into it after it happened.

BTW I am not advocating the waring the full kit when on piste but just to show it can happen anywhere or time depending on conditions.
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Old 12.12.2013, 14:45
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Re: Skiing



Sometimes I am glad I am not that good
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Old 12.12.2013, 14:56
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Re: Skiing

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When I was working in France 3 years ago a slide happened onto the "safe" blue run home, a bit shocked to come across it in the poor vis. Only injury was a ACL of some one who skied into it after it happened.

BTW I am not advocating the waring the full kit when on piste but just to show it can happen anywhere or time depending on conditions.
If you own the kit you should wear a transceiver & probably carry a shovel & probe as you will always go off piste, if thats something you do.

I have skied behind Nigel Shepherd a mountain guide & the person in the group behind me got avalanched but managed to stand up by himself. It's amazing how much snow shifts in a tiny slide. The avalanche risk was 3/5 that day.
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Old 12.12.2013, 17:43
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Re: Skiing

I skied the Vallee Blanche, from the top of Mt Blanc, a few years ago. We were a group with a guide and all wore a Barryvox (radio seeker in case one is buried in snow).

I was a beautiful day and easy conditions with plenty of people doing the same. There was one slightly difficult bit, bit not very, and rest was like skiing a piste.

However it is not a piste and the weather can quickly change. I would not consider this without an experienced guide and the proper equipment...
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Old 12.12.2013, 17:59
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Re: Skiing

Taking risks for yourself is one thing - taking your 13year old son is something else- really. Could you live with yourself if something happened to him because you took un-necessary risks?

BTW best value for money is to become a member of REGA helicopter rescue if you ever go off-piste (although Rega or no Rega- I would never take a child on such a glacier without a guide).

Last edited by Odile; 12.12.2013 at 21:02.
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Old 12.12.2013, 18:07
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Re: Skiing

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Taking risks for yourself is one thing - taking your 13year old son is something else- really. Could you live with yourself if something happened to him because you took un-necessary risks?
Couple of years ago I was skiing with a mountain guide who, at the end of the day, split off from us and went up to the Steinberg Glacier (Engelberg) to help "dig the body out". He hadn't mentioned it but had been on radio/phone contact with the rescue team through the afternoon.

Anyway, turns out that it was someone very much like the OP here sounds, had seen people skiing down the glacier, thought it looked nice, but basically had not a clue about the dangers and quite happily skied under the ropes and warning signs... with his nine-year-old son. The weather suddenly turned bad with low cloud and poor vis, and he clearly didn't have a clue where to go, and found himself right in the middle in the most crevassed part just over a rock line.

Thankfully the boy just stayed put, after his father had skied straight into a 20m deep crevasse.

Please, don't anyone consider following this example.
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Old 12.12.2013, 18:41
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Re: Skiing

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I skied the Vallee Blanche, from the top of Mt Blanc, a few years ago. We were a group with a guide and all wore a Barryvox (radio seeker in case one is buried in snow).



I was a beautiful day and easy conditions with plenty of people doing the same. There was one slightly difficult bit, bit not very, and rest was like skiing a piste.



However it is not a piste and the weather can quickly change. I would not consider this without an experienced guide and the proper equipment...

The glacier has substantially receded in recent years making the lower sections more difficult . Route finding can be interesting to say the least.
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Old 12.12.2013, 20:47
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Re: Skiing

ok, thanks everybody, i see now that skiing off-piste on a glacier without a guide and equipment wouldn't be a good idea. though still nobody wrote about the particular route, especially the lower half, from Pavillon to the station
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Old 12.12.2013, 21:04
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Re: Skiing

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