The Perry Linsley Freeride/Off-Piste Ski Challenge

This is the second ski challenge in the “tour-off” contest sparked when we published the epic Le Tour De Vanoise: Three Ski Areas In One Day. The Perry Linsley Challenge is so serious it has its own website. Sent in by Simon Perry, and re-published with his permission, we present to you:

The Perry Linsley Challenge – a freeride/off-piste skiing challenge to ski a classic north-facing couloir from the top of every mountain in Tignes and Val d’Isere that has one – in one day.

Warning: this is a very serious challenge for seasoned freeriders involving skiing steep terrain above cliffs, skiing on crevassed glaciers involving knowledge of rope-work, not to mention significant risk of avalanche. A mountain guide is strongly recommend unless you are absolutely sure you know what you’re doing. You won’t be able to use a ski instructor acting as a guide, as they are not permitted to take clients on a glacier. Don’t even think about doing this until you’ve skied all of the routes individually.

History

The challenge was first conceived of during the 2013/2014 ski season after Simon Perry, Jon Linsley and Bruce Blackwell skied the triple (North Face of the Grande Motte, North Face of the Pramecou and Grande Couloir on Grande Balme). Finishing earlier than expected, they decided to add on Pisteurs, Orientation Table and a variant of Mickey’s Ears afterwards. That got them thinking about how much could be done in a day, and whether the 24-hour challenges seen in fell running and rock climbing could be brought to the world of freeride skiing.

After significant planning, the challenge was first skied on the 8th April 2015. Simon Perry and Jon Linsley slept at the top of the Grande Motte the night before so that the first three couloirs could be skied before the lift system opened. Pete Ackroyd then joined the team after the triple with the view that he would take over from Jon in supporting Simon on the route, but luckily Jon’s fitness held up and he managed to complete the route with Simon in 8 hours, 37 mins and 53 seconds – the day before his 50th birthday. Their route is on Strava.

Tignes Val d'Isere freeride ski challenge
Jon Lindsey skiing the North Face of the Grande Motte at sunrise. Photo by Simon Perry

 

Tignes Val d'Isere freeride ski
Simon Perry arriving in Fornet, Val D’isere to finish the challenge. Photo by Pete Ackroyd.
It includes the following couloirs:

  • The North Face of the Grande Motte (any route down the glacier)
  • The North Face of the Pramecou (any route)
  • Grande Couloir on the north face of the Grande Balme
  • The North face of the Petite Balme
  • The top couloir into the Chardonnet Bowl (either the one right from the top of the main walk, or the one around the back)
  • Trois Murs
  • Mickey’s Ears (any couloir that involves walking around the back of where the ears used to be)
  • Pisteur’s Couloir
  • Orientation Table Couloir
  • Pointe Pers

There is no set order, planning the route is part of the fun! The challenge is to complete the above in a single day, from when the first member of your team enters the first couloir, to when you’ve skied them all and the last person makes it back to civilisation (a village or road).

You are permitted to use ski lifts and the free buses to get you around the area, but no other form of mechanised transport (cars, ski-dos, helicopters etc!)

Route planning is a big part of the fun, but the first attempt was done in the following order:

  • The Triple (NF of the Grande Motte, Pramecou & Grande Balme) before the lifts opened
  • Chardonnet
  • Trois Murs
  • NF of the Petite Balme
  • Mickey’s Ears
  • Orientation Table
  • Pisteurs
  • Pointe Pers

The more obvious path would be to ski the NF of the Petite Balme immediately after The Triple. The reason it was decided to come back to it was because of lift opening times – Tichot opened at 08:55 and Lanches not until 9:30. However, given the time taken to complete the challenge was less than expected, a faster time would be possible simply by leaving later from the top and arriving at the bottom of Lanches after 09:30.

Find some images of the couloir routes here.

When to do it

Safety is clearly the main concern, and this will be lethal at the wrong time of year. If you don’t already know the best time to go from a safety point of view, this challenge isn’t for you.

As nice as it is to get first tracks, the lack of a boot pack on the hikes up will slow you down and wear you out. When the challenge was first done, all of the routes had been skied and there was a solid, almost concrete boot pack up to most of the couloirs. This made the walking easy.

Saturdays are better to ensure the lift queues are short, though in Tignes and Val D’Isere this is rarely a significant problem outside the school holidays.

If you have a crack at the challenge, please leave a comment on the blog. Maximum kudos for the first team to complete it on snowboards.

All the above is reproduced from the Perry Linsley Challenge website, by Edge Magazine, as an account of one group's ski trip and information they offer for anyone who'd like to repeat it. We haven't verified the accuracy of any claims. As we'd say to anyone thinking of going off piste, please heed all safety warnings and never venture out without an experienced guide/instructor.


               	

Katie Downs

EDGE Magazine is your guide to a ski holiday, working or living around Tignes, Val d'Isere, Bourg Saint Maurice, Les Arcs, La Plagne, La Rosiere, Peisey Vallandry & Sainte Foy. Our website www.edgemag.net is packed full of useful live information, regularly updated features and interviews with something for everyone...snow-lovers, starter snowboarders, seasoned skiers, serious apres-skiers, seasonaires and locals. Pick up a copy of our magazine from December in loads of places in each resort including bars, restaurants, shops, cafes and airport transfer vans too. For more information and to request a media pack e-mail info@edgemag.net. We'd love to hear from you!

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