Forums Trip Reports Jager Couloir, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Chamonix on a split
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  • #573154
    Sufferfest
    64 Posts

    It’s shaping up to be a busy week. This one was a bit steeper and I managed to scare myself a bit too much at times.

    http://paulholding.com/2010/04/11/le-jager-couloir-east-face-of-mont-blanc-du-tacul-4248m-chamonix-10-april-2010/

    Has anyone else experience on the steep, hard stuff? I felt like the split was just too soft for this kind of boarding.

    Not sure what other people’s thoughts are….?

    #627217
    SerreChe
    124 Posts

    Sweet TR. Nice Pics.

    There are very few things I enjoy less than boarding on steep icy/crudy slopes. If I know anything is gonna be >45 and icy then I’ll be on skis for sure in which case it can be quite fun. I do not believe I have ever ridden anything 60 (never popped out a clino tho) so can’t comment on that. On the other hand it seems boarders can do better on heavy/gloppy/grabby snow compared to skiers. If it is mixed conditions like you had on the Jager then I guess no tool is perfect. Some top boarders seem to do ok in super icy steeps (special set-ups in terms of boots etc). I do not think it means your board has issues, I think boards are probably not the best tools for this kind of slopes (can of worms). Some people on here seem to ride some pretty steep/technical stuff so prolly will have more input for you in terms of what kind of boards may suit this kind of environment. Maybe you can have a look at the kind of set-up ppl like Siffredi (RIP) etc were using in their days. I seem to remember some vid of him ridding some pretty flexy board in some gnar, but my memory could be playing tricks on me.

    #627218
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Thanks for the stoke!
    I do not find much difference riding icy steeps with a split vs solid board-you just have to find the right split! Now, I certainly am not in favor of riding exposed slopes over 45 degrees in icy conditions, but the mountains are what they are, and sometimes getting down something steep, icy, and exposed is necessary. I find the most important factor for getting edge control on icy steeps is a having a board with as little sidecut as you can find, the board does not have to be hella stiff-a good medium/stiff flexing freeride board is fine (but consider the extra weight of mountaineering gear will make any board feel softer than it does without the extra weight). Most snowboards have too deep a sidecut for good riding in the steeps: the deep sidecut results in over pressurization of the tip and tail edge, and not enough pressure on the edge in the middle of the board. The high edge pressure at the tip and tail cause the board to chatter, and make it difficult to maintain edge control. My Prior Backcountry (168 cm. with 10 m. sidecut radius) does OK on the steeps, but my Winterstick Tom Burt (172 cm. 11 m. sidecut radius) does even better. I am convinced that I want a split with an 11 m. sidecut radius, and I may go custom to get one. A damp board will help with edge control as well, as the damping will help keep the edge on the surface and not bouncing around as much.

    #627219
    Flying Scotsman
    23 Posts

    Or get the right bindings! Not sure what setup you are using but if it is a Voile there are a couple better alternatives which make all the difference on the icy chunder. I know Tyler and Bryce of Karakorum both ride their splits year round (resort of BC) with thier binding setup on all conditions from chunder, ice to powder. If you would have found it easier on a regular board setup then I know with theirs it will take your split to a regular board feel – certainly did with mine. Beautiful pics – just dying to go back there – love that place.

    #627220
    granjero
    40 Posts

    Very nice!!! I skied the Jager and Diable and Isolee in 2008 among others and they were some of my favorite lines ever (yeah shoulda done Gerva but I was trying for a few lines on the Brenva face and spent lots of days trying to get those and Gerva came out of condition…next trip!).
    :headbang: The Tacul is hands down the ultimate alpine sport cathedral. :headbang:

    I just got a splitboard this year (voile 173) and have only gotten to try it out on up to 55* windblown and pow, not yet on harder surfaces…but from experience so far it does seem to have less torsional rigidity.

    Hard boots worked well on hard 50* on a normal board (took board and skis with one pair of boots to double drop a classic Sierra zone called North Peak 50* 300m). Hard boots will definitely give you an easier and more precise edge, but the flex in the board will remain constant.

    Sharpen those edges to razors for steep lines it will make a difference!

    Keep up the TRs and BE SAFE!!!!!!! :rock:

    #627221
    Sufferfest
    64 Posts

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the great comments. Definitely some things worth considering there.

    I am in hardboots but probably need to buckle them a bit tighter for this kind of descent. I normally have them a bit loser to replicate the feel of soft boots which is perfect for most skiing but might not be for this kind of descent. How do you guys do it?

    Another thing which was a bit worrying was the tail clip popped open from the pressure of being on rock and the board split a bit at the back on the way down. I’m sure it didn’t make much difference but I doubt it improved performance!

    And one last thing… I normally get the board edges tuned in shop but this is something I need to do myself now. Any insider tips on the best gear and techniques for filing the edges or things to avoid or any misplaced industry standards? Different edges for the different terrain…e.t.c?

    Thanks for all the help!

    #627222
    fullers2oh
    525 Posts

    1st off — really strong euro-stokage! we need more of that here and im enjoying learning about the terrain out there from TR’s like these. so despite not having top to bottom pow it is still a nice line and you did “ride” it. good going mon. excellent pics too.

    2nd — it was so hard for me to read this TR. one day i clicked on the title and then when the page loaded there was another link. maybe i was too tired from the 1st click, or maybe i didnt know just what to do. then again today i thought i had enough energy so i clicked the 1st link, and after much hardship i clicked the 2nd link and boom, there was this cool TR 🙄

    3rd — barrows thanks for spelling it out about the sidecut. i always wondered about that.

    lastly so you say the timing is not right with the bins. why not make it an overnight so you can ensure good conditions? are people allowed to camp out up there? is that just crazy talk? timing is everything and there have been a few times where i screwed myself by climbing too late or vice versa, i turned around before summiting to make sure i had a good ride. if i was trying for a big, steep line with exposure, i would do everything in my power to make sure the conditions were right. now im not criticizing you at all for your decisions but the “human factor” of being objective driven is always something to think about. myself i know i loose sight of this and get tunnel visioned, but the mtns are not going anywhere! maybe our snowpack is but that is a different discussion.

    #627223
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    RE Tuning for steeps. Keep in mind the following is just what works for me, YMMV as always. In my opinion, the one thing one wants to avoid in the steeps is edges that are catchy either at the tip or tail. To that end I adjust the angle of the side edge differently at the tip and tail: when a board gets a pro tune I have them put a standard one degree bevel on the base edge, then I use an adjustable side edge tuner to bring the side edge to 89 degrees through the mid section of the board for good grip, and 90 degrees at the tip and tail for a little less grip at the ends of the board.
    I want the board to enter turns somewhat gently on the steeps-the worst thing that can happen is the tip grabbing too hard, and sending the rider “over the bars” in a tumbling fall that could be very difficult to arrest.

    #627224
    Sufferfest
    64 Posts

    Hey Barrows,

    I was just reading about people varying the side edge….. Still undecided as to what to do but that could be the way too go. Do you find that 89 is enough on the side edge. I was thinking about 88 degrees but fear that could be a bit overkill. That the sort of edge ski racers use. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Hey Fuller,

    Well, there are three scenarios. 1. I get a lot fitter and get my lazy arse up the boot pack quicker! In this case, proably an 1.5 hrs quicker. 2. I bivy there for the night. This is, however, not allowed. 3. I stay in a hut but that can turn out to be quite expensive depending on whether you bring your food or not (EUR 50 to 60 or standard EUR25 for non-members). 4. One is allowed a learning curve. The aspect is East but you don’t know how long exactly it will stay in the sun unless you watch it all the time due to the high walls which will shelter parts of the couloir quicker than usual. Already an 9.30, the lower part was in the shade going up. It is not possible to have the whole couloir in the sun at the same time and for it to have enough time to soften up, so unfortunately it was not possible to avoid some icy sections (unless you got it in powder which could present another set of problems in itself).

    But going to try for another couloir in a couple of days and will be staying in a hut for that one!!

    #627225
    nothingmuch
    358 Posts

    Regarding the bins: there’s the cosmiques hut (can be hard to book) and they turn a blind eye if you take the last bin up and sleep in the aig. midi bathroom so you can start early the next day.

    #627226
    Wasatch_Don
    101 Posts

    I know this solution might be a bit expensive but I keep two pairs of hardboots available for use depending on the conditions. AT boots are all over Ebay so maybe it turns out being a good investment if you can find the right deal.

    I ride some slightly modified Scarpa F3s when I know it’s going to be a long day without too much mountaineering. They are very light and feel great with the Dynafit toe pieces.

    For mountaineering days I use some Black Diamond Methods which I absolutely love. They are quite a bit heavier but they have an amazing walk mode that allows a forward lean very similar to a traditional highback setup. To your point above, I get my boots nice and tight but leave them in walk mode for most slopes. This gives me nice edge control but retains some floaty feel. For super steep icy stuff, I throw the boots into ski mode which sacrifices some comfort but gives me all the confidence I need for the exposed steeps. I’ve had it up to 60 degrees on boilerplate with no problems. FYI, I’m riding a 178 Spearhead but it’s the camber version (I’m 6’4 and 220lbs)

    I would also suggest the Bomber plate bindings instead of the Voile ones. The Voile’s are noodles compared to the Bombers and will kill your confidence as well. I actually ended up breaking a pair of Voiles(killing a great day) but have had zero issues with the Bombers.

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