Petit Mont Blanc, ENE Face descent
On 11/02/2011 Davide Capozzi from Italy and Julien Herry from France carried out the what is likely to be the first descent of the ENE Face of Petit Mont Blanc.
This is a rare winter, with a large number of important ascents on the big alpine faces, fantastic new icefalls and a myriad of new descents with skis and snowboards.
We recently mentioned two first descents by the Italian Davide Capozzi and friends - the SW Couloir of Col du Brouillard and the SW Couloir on Aiguilles du Brouillard - and last Friday the 39-year-old from Aosta descended the ENE Face of Petit Mont Blanc together with the snowboarder and alpinist Julien Herry.
According to Capozzi, and also according to Stefano De Benedetti - one of the biggest experts of the Miage with a large number of famous descents to his name - this latest descent could well be not only the first snowboard descent, but the first descent overall. Capozzi's report is published below, in the hope that the collective knowledge of our readers might help to shed some light. And should the gully have already been skied before, we will of course be pleased to put the record straight.
Petit Mont Blanc ENE Face
by Davide Capozzi
When I did the Couloir Bonatti for the first time I saw the enormous gully up the ENE Face of Petit Mont Blacn. I thought to myself that it would be great to snowboard down it, starting from the summit. From below the Face doesn't appear particularly beautiful, and the only route up it is a gully climbed by Giancarlo Grassi.
With Julien Herry, another snowboarder, we checked it out and from below it was difficult to see whether we'd reach the crest which leads to the summit. In the end, thanks to perfectly hidden gullies and traverses, we exited onto the shoulder a couple of hundred meters beneath the summit of Petit Mont Blanc.
What awaited us was a great descent, 40° - 45° steep with one short abseil towards the end to avoid an icy drop which in better snow conditions could be skiable.