Despite the late hour for the ski season, snow cover remains impressive in the Northern Alps. A pleasant walk in trainers through the woods above Buet / Vallorcine lead to continuous snow in the Berard Valley leading up to Mont Buet at the Eastern end of the Aiguilles Rouges above the Chamonix Valley.
The classic route on Mont Buet is mainly via East, South East and South facing slopes, so in mid May, an early start is required! 0500 for us with just over 4 hours of steady climbing to reach the summit and enjoy some fine spring snow on the descent, and great views of the snowy Mont Blanc range, with lots of teams skiing Mont Blanc itself.
The lower SE facing slopes were getting pretty soft already by 1000 although there were still plenty of teams heading up towards the summit who should have probably got out of bed a bit earlier!
An early finish gave plenty of time to transfer east along the Rhone Valley and take the Felskin lift out of Saas Fee to access the Brittania Hut. Although we only just caught it as had forgotten quite how far out of town the Felskin lift is! Many teams left the hut this morning – just as the weather was improving after a cloudy and snowy night – bound for the Allalinhorn, Strahlhorn, Alphubel and, for us, the Rimpfischorn.
Great conditions on the glacier with massive snow volume and a pleasant shallow carpet of pristine velvet fresh snow. We were not the first to the Rimpfischattel and thus did not have to put a track in up the snowy couloir and mixed ground to reach the summit ridge. Thanks to those that did! Snow cover meant the ascent was pleasantly straight forward and much easier than our last ascent in October 2016.
The descent went from lovely deep soft fresh powder – crust – spring snow – sludge and a hot skin back to the Brittania Hut was soon followed by a big snow storm, so the weather was packing it in. The ‘pistes’ of the Saas Fee resort gave a very efficient descent down to 1900m and almost back to the Felskin lift itself. So all that remained was then the massive final walk out back to the car park!