Exiting the snow line proves even more arduous, forced to hike on and off snow patches which appeared bottomless while I sank into my thighs. I was starting to see why guides aren’t taking clients this late in the season, and although it feels like I’m working three times harder, I am slowly but surely moving forward. From here, I reached a river swollen with meltwater, and the bridge appears have been washed away. Thankfully, two rails remained so precariously bracing myself between the two, I edged myself across looking down at the raging torrent below. The hike up the next valley is pleasant and it felt a million miles away from the dangers up in the high mountains. The climb steepened into the snow and although I could have put skis back on and tour, I found a good rhythm cramponing up the icy precipice. Passing the empty refuge, the gradient mellowed into a wide-open beautiful bowl and I could finally see the col I must reach. Touring these distances breaking trail with no skin track has taken its toll on the legs, and by now the heat was stifling. For sure, the temperatures were dangerously high, however my schedule was going exactly to plan, finding myself navigating easygoing terrain when avalanche risk is at its highest. Reaching my next high point, the views opened out to glaciers that sprawled as far as the eye could see in every direction.
I was excited to rip my skins and begin this cruisy glacier ski and I’d been treated to some fresh cold snow up high which soon turned into fun spring slush lower down. Feeling good, I opened up a little, skiing hard while evading the grasp of the numerous large open crevasses which were relatively easy to spot. The ambience in this valley was amazing and I’m in awe of the vast hanging seracs which appear larger than any building I’d ever seen before. As I reach the lower slopes, there are plenty of huge glide cracks owed to the rapidly warming snow, which starts to get sticky but I make quick work of the plateau which takes me over to the next climb.