South East Couloir
Pointe de la Lune ou Punta di Ceresole, 3777 m Gran Paradiso range.
South East Couloir, 1st ski descent 20 November 2011 by Rémy Lécluse and Glen Plake 600 meters. 40 à 45° with some parts at 50° Grade: 5.2 E3
"We skied on the moon…."
While taking clients on a ski trip through the eastern ridge of Gran Paradiso, also called Cresta Gastaldi, I noticed some beautiful, intense couloirs. The approach is long, and has to be done through Val d'Oro, but I filed it away for a future time.
It has been blowing hard in the Chamonix valley; the weather forecast shows a large amount of precipitation falling on our approach. After a few days skiing, researching the conditions, I sent my friend Glen Plake a text message: I am going to try a new thing tomorrow in Gran Paradiso. Are you coming along???
His answer: "Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The classic approach involves at least three hours of walking with skis, so we decide on the approach via Teleccio Dam & Val Piantonetto, where the road goes up to 1917m - less walking, more skiing! At 2200m, the Pontese hut is a great stop to swap shoes for touring boots and skin up to Becchi Pass at 2989m through 20 to 30 cm of deep powder. Not so bad!
The descent is amazing. Much better than our yellow half-barrel shelter for the night and dinner: freeze-dried Colombo for Glen and chili con carne for me. A gastro-romantic evening….
Breakfast is served a t 6am. Pack up and reach the bottom of the couloir at 8am; summit by 9:30. Parts of the couloir are corn snow that we must ski before the shade returns and ice along with it.
From the top, a stunning view south to Maritime and Ligurian Alps.
Short climb down a snowy chimney into the couloirs with pitches of 40 - 45°, with some pitches around 50° or more, but beautiful. It is a rare ambiance. Quiet, steep.
The rest is a party: down through amazing powder, up to Becchi Pass and down again, one hundred perfect turns through boulders and pillows, like heroes – until the final 100m of breakable crust.
Back to earth.
Rémy thanks: Arc'teryx, Dynastar & Grivel
Glen thanks: Elan, Julbo, Salewa