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A Window of Opportunity: Second Descent of Aiguille Blanche du Peuterey

Imagine living with the rocky east face of Aiguille Blanche du Peuterey staring at you every winter. The 50-degree face drops 1350 meters from the Italian side of Blanche’s 4100-meter summit, and a narrow band of snow only skied once winds among the rock. Every season it leaves you wondering when conditions and opportunity will collide, allowing for a brief window to follow in the tracks of the legendary Stefano de Benedetti and ski its slopes.

Benedetti’s descent of the east face.

For Davide Capozzi, Julien Herry, Francesco Civra and Luca Rolli those two essential ingredients came together this winter. “We followed the snow evolution on this face for many days before attempting the descent,” says Rolli. “The snow was sticking to the face really well, even in the steepest passages.” Their April descent was only the second time the east face had ever been skied.

Twenty nine years after Benedetti’s solo first descent of the face (1984), Capozzi, Herry, Civra and Rolli repeated the route in epic conditions. “We skied on soft winter snow at the top and on spring snow at the bottom,” Rolli added. “Perfect timing was so important to avoid critical and dangerous situations.”

Rolli is no stranger to the Aiguille Blanche. In 2010, he and Francesco Civra repeated another Benedetti descent on its north face, which, at times, pitches steeper than 50 degrees and required the skiers to make a free-hanging rappel over a 40m serac.

Check out the video of Capozzi, Herry, Civra and Rolli descending the Aiguille Blanche du Peuterey’s steep east face.

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