This Wednesday the weather forecast was for sunshine so we were holding reservations for the Aig du Midi lift to go ski touring. Do not be fooled into thinking that because you have a reservation you can rock up and get through the equivalent of an express line on to the telecabine. It will take about half an hour to get through the line at the kiosk to exchange your reservation for the required number of plastic tokens. then take the plastic tokens to the lift line and wait for your “bin” number to come up. Once your number comes up, hand over your token, join the lift line and enter the zig zags. When the gate opens the lift line slowly moves through the zig zags, sort of like trying to get through customs at an airport, except that only a certain number will get through the gate before it closes again for another ten minutes. Once at the gate you need a valid pass to get through and enter the holding pen. This is a room with one glass wall through which you can watch the previous occupants waiting for ten minutes to get on the actual lift. Once they are successfully crammed in to the big red box the glass wall slides away allowing access to the platform where one waits for.., you guessed it, ten minutes until the next red box comes down the mountain and it’s our turn.
Thankfully the same process is not repeated at the mid station and it is in the sun so waiting there seems to fly by in comparison.
The ridge from the top of the Aig du Midi is in fantastic condition. Once kitted up again at the bottom of the ridge the crowds disperse in various different directions. We headed over the flats toward Helbronner. Someone had very kindly put a track in (while we were faffing about in the lift line) skirting under the crevasses and off up to the Italian side. After a quick bite of lunch we enjoyed fresh tracks virtually all the way down the Vallee Noir to Salle a Manger.
Most folk are still skiing out to Chamonix rather than taking the gondola and the Montenvers train back to town. We opted for the train as we would like our skis to do another season. All in all a grand day out and a well earned beer.