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Couloir Balza

Descent difficulty: 4.2 E2 D

Steepness 45° - 40°

Vertical drop: 450m

Top: 3400m

Exposition: ENE

Snow conditions: Chalk and some spots of hard snow

First descent (?): 25/02/2015 Luca Zattoni, Becky Ellis, Andy Barnes, Mathias Eriksson

This tiny couloir can be seen from Valle Perduta, it starts right under the ridge that goes up to Quintino Sella refuge. I saw it many times but I never thought about going there to see if it could be skiable, until last Sunday descending from Altaluce I saw that it was full of snow with no rocks inside, only with a small rappel right under the top.

The weather unfortunately was not good: strong winds from the north. Two days later when I went checking it out with Becky, Andy and Mathias, I feared that all the snow would have been blown away. But thanks to the high ridges that surround, it was in a good shape; with nice chalk snow and just some hints of hard snow.

I went in first checking the snow for my friends, it seemed all OK so I yell them to start skiing. This first part was quite hard because of the steepness, the narrowness and the fact that i was exposed over a quite big cliff.

80 meters below i took off my skis, I put on crampons and I started hammering a piton into the hard brown granite to build our belay, in order to rappel 15 - 20 meters of rock and ice under us. That was the worst part because the wind started to blow strong; we were freezing, my gloves were completely white for the ice.

The second part was better, the snow was really nice: powder in some places, but the wind was even stronger. We skied it fast and we finally went out in the light to get some warmth in the afternoon light.

We were really stoked and happy to have lived such a nice adventure! Which wasn’t over yet, we skied another 1400m of nice chalk snow till Staffal.

This journey had me remind of last year when Federico, Matteo and I were trying to reach Quintino Sella refuge but we were blocked by a storm and we took shelter under a rock few meters away from this line. Today was for you my friend. Ride in peace.

Skinning up


Building the belay...