Today was meant to be a rest day. We think we have been on the hill twelve days in a row, equalling our last long stint across Christmas. Each day this week was likely to be a rest day, but we had the Sibs brothers staying for 4 days so needed to show them the mountain and our favourite spots, and then the snow started… Every night 15 to 25cm of fresh powder would be falling, and every morning we needed to get up and try and get fresh lines. But the legs were feeling it, and finally two days ago we only managed 3 runs (of amazing fresh off piste powder topped off with a chocolate chaud) and then yesterday Addy B and Rob only managed 2 runs on fresh powder (Jules obviously with far too much energy decided to spend another 2 hours cruising around on piste).
Sunday, day of rest. Well we were hoping for that, and had a lovely lie in but Addy B had slightly different ideas. It involved only one run… Just one.
When we arrived in Morzine, Jules saw this white, snowy face from down in the village (the Pointe de Ressachaux – see photo above with the main face lit up by sun set taken in downtown Morzine), and proclaimed that she wanted to ride it before we finished the season. It looked do-able, and we had seen tracks on it at various times on nice sunny days, so obviously other people were riding it.
So, back to the rest day. Addy B declared mid-morning that he was going to skin up to the Pointe de Ressachaux on his split board (technical aside: split board is a a snowboard that splits down the middle to become two separate skis which then can have skins attached – sticky carpet, that grips the snow and allows you to walk up hill. When you get to the top, you take the skins off, put the board back together, and snowboard back down.) Julie declared with all her energy that she would join him, and Rob not wanting to look like the loser that would be sitting at home in his pyjamas while the other two were having the ride of their life said that it sounded like a great idea. So much for the rest day…
As good as the split board sounds, they cost close to what Rob and Jules spent buying Bon Jumpy. Each. Second best? Snow shoes. Strap the board to your back, attach snow shoes to the board boots. And walk up. With the help of poles. And a lot of grunting (well mainly just from Rob). A quick bus into town and Rob had hired a couple of pairs of snow shoes and met Addy B and Jules back at what we believed to be the main access path up to the Ressachaux face. And so it began. Split board vs. snow shoes, round one. Ding, ding.
As expected there was a lot of faff to start getting both the split board ready and the snow shoes. Especially when Princess Faffalot is involved. Split boards to be split, skins attached, bindings adjusted… Snow shoes to be sized for boots, telescopic poles to be extended, boards to be strapped to the back. Faffometer between Split Board and Snow Shoes – Draw.
Next up, the walk. Snow was heavy and steep to start. And the steepness didn’t let up. The speed of the walking didn’t vary too much between the split board and the snow shoes. We were walking pretty much the same pace, with the only drawback of the snow shoes was that we had to carry our boards on our back. This would probably be very different in fresh powder as the split board would slide across while the snow shoes would sink quite a bit more, but heavy wet snow kept the competition close. Walkometer between Split Board and Snow Shoes – Winner Split Board (less weight to carry up the hill as the board is already on your feet).
The little sleep-in in the morning started to seem a little bit of an issue as we all hiked up the walking path. By the time we all finally got ready and the start gun was fired, it was 1pm. Which was fine, because in our heads we were going to be up to the face by 2pm, up the top by 3.30pm and then back down by 4pm. Back home, showered and resting with a cup of tea by 5… Not quite. The first stint took us two and a half hours. Quite a slog for a rest day. And by the time we got to the bottom of the face it was seeming a little unrealistic to take on the final section and get back before the sun set. Jules opted to stay and take a few photos, whilst Rob and Addy B decided to push on for another half hour to try and get part way up at least. As we were on the way up, we noticed some snow slips on the tree lines that we were hoping to ride, so opted for the safer option of straight back down. Switching back to the snow board and getting the board off the back and putting snow shoes on were about the same amount of faff, except this time with a really cold wind numbing the fingers.
So the challenge to reach the Pointe de Ressachaux remains. Addy B has kindly offered to leave his split board with us, so we can attempt round two. We hope to get another attempt before we leave, but are happy with the adventure. Maybe we can have a rest day tomorrow…