Sunday, October 23, 2011

What month is the best time to climb in the Alps? Answer now.

The impressive thing about the weather this Autumn is that we have had one or two days of bad weather, heavy rain , snow and then the high pressure has kicked in and the days have been utterly perfect- cold clear and windless even at 3600 meters.
I have just spent four days with Reuben Berg making the most of the exceptional weather and conditions.
We spent the first day cragging in the Chamonix Valley.
Our second we headed to Montreux in the trusty 33 year old MG Midget. We took the train to the Rochers de Naye alighting at the Gare de Jamman. This is just under the Dent de Jamman - our objective for the day.
We tromped through deep snow to the foot of our rock climb. Fortunately our route was steep and faced south so it was blasted by the sun and clear of snow.
On our third day we headed up the Aguille du Midi [which was wonderfully quiet]and climbed the Cosmique arete. The conditions and the esthetics just do not get better than this.
Today the Le Brevent lift reopened for the school half term and so we rode it to the summit. We were greeted by warming sun and snow under foot yet the rock was warm and clear of snow. I was left with the feeling : If there is a better setting in which to rock climb I would love to know what it looks like.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

An extrordianry indian summer

Weather has been amazing and managed to steal a couple of days rock climbing with Francis Bridgman. The first above Argentiere on the Chesery crags.
Our second day was in the Val Ferret dodging the cows coming down from their summer pasture.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mt Blanc 4810 meters twice in a week

Conditions and the weather have been so good last week that I ended up climbing Mt Blanc twice. The first time with Mark Daniels on Tuesday, then yesterday with Alison Smith.

Mark caught the train from Geneva where he lives I met him at the railway station and we then we rode the Aguille du Midi cable car and strolled over to the Cosmiques Hut where Mark enjoyed an unconventional acclimatisation process: A giant Omelete and a few beers followed by an afternoon snooze.

The next morning we set of at 6.00am [You can start leisurely at this time of year because the sun doesn't effect the snow conditions]
We reached the top at 11.30am and sat on top for half an hour because there wasn't a breath of wind. The only people we saw all ascent were 5 Parapenters heading to to the top of Mt Blanc in order to fly off.

Next Alison arrived [also from Geneva] on Friday and we again spent the night in the Cosmiques Hut. This was not the first time Alison and I had climbed Mt Blanc together: The last time was 21years ago! Conditions were still pretty much perfect although there was considerably more wind which didn't cause us any problems but meant that the by now many Parapenters couldn't fly from the summit.

This week were the best conditions I have ever known for Mt Blanc. What was really good was that it was so quiet. Why the place is mobbed in July and August when conditions are often uncertain I do not know.