Arc'teryx La Grivola

La Grivola 3969 m, Gran Paradiso range, Italy

1st ski descent of SE Face by Boris Dufour & Rémy Lécluse le 14 05 2012.

570 m, 45 à 50°, 5.3 E4

Boris Dufour is a writer and photographer, surfer and skier. Last winter, we were in touch for an article about my Extreme Ski School, an article that he wanted to write and photograph, that would also include my main passion: looking for new ski routes.

For most of April, I spent my evenings checking the weather forecast to see rain, clouds, rain, or heat! Finally, in mid-May a window appeared. I called Boris to see if he wanted to go with me to La Grivola. The NW & NE faces were skied by Stefano De Benedetti 1979 & 1980, but the SE face remained unskied.

I really like Gran Paradiso range and I never been on top of La Grivola. On a Sunday afternoon, we walked up to Vittorio Sella hut, seeing many ibex and mountain goats along the way. A 2am start is planned, to beat the weather and heat. After a long skiing season, it was really hard to get out of bed!

Four hours skinning up on hard pack snow lead us to the bergschrund. Not much snow on the face but it looked like it would be okay, with maybe a bit of "dry skiing".

The ascent line crossed a central spur between two main couloirs; there could be trouble skiing down. But by 9am, we were in skiing mode, with Boris being in more photographs than me! The weather forecast was right and a northeast wind kept the snow hard, but fortunately a bit of fresh snow from the night before gave us reasonable grip.

Skiing down, I searched for an easier way to cross the central spur. Quite quickly, I found a kind of snowy ledge higher on the spur and we traversed to the second couloir quite easily. Unfortunately, we had to make a short abseil (five meters) to get down a rocky bottleneck, but then a short skin up lead us to a pass and then a thousand vertical on perfect corn snow down to the hut. Just fabulous!

Thanks to: Adidas Eyewear, Arc'teryx, Dynastar, Grivel et Scarpa

Rémy Lécluse