Saturday, June 29, 2013

If your coming to the Alps soon - probably worth bringing your skis

James Vernon joined me for a week. The aim was to have a bit of a refresher, get some acclimatisation under our belts and at the end of the week make an attempt on Mt Blanc.
We kicked off with a day on the Mer de Glace. The weather was unpleasant cold and rainy, by the time we got off the Montenvers train it was snowing. It turned out to be a good use of the day because ice axes and crampons are impervious to the rain.
The next part of the plan was to gain some valuable acclimatisation and I came up with plan to combine this with some ski touring. The Guardian at the Mantova Hut said skis would be by far the best way off getting around. The journey passed by Arnad so we stopped for some brilliant rock climbing before picking up the cable car in Staffel and then skiing to the Hut.

We spent two nights and climbed two 4000 meter peaks, Pyramid Vincent and Balenhorn. We were treated to excellent skiing and sparked a lot of jealousy from the mountaineers on foot.

In addition we were able to make a memorable descent below the Mantova hut and skied all the way to Paulo our Land Rover pick up

We were now very well acclimatised and in good shape for our attempt on Mt Blanc. It was at this stage that the plan unraveled. The weather had other ideas , we had to cancel the reservation in the Cosmiques Hut and go rock climbing instead.
Still an unusal week combing many of the facets of Mountaineering.

Summer season kicks off with mid summers day skiing

The summer mountaineering season started on Monday and the tempertures soared to a mighty 36degrees.
Reuben and I started the week with an ascent of the South East face of the Gallinhorn which over looks Kandersteg.
On the Tuesday we headed around to the Stockhorn where we climbed some good routes while gazing over Lake Thun and the Oberland.
Afterwards we headed round to Grindlewald and caught the train to Kliene Scheidegg and checked into the Hotel Bellvue des Alps. In my view the best hotel in the Alps. It has been carefully preserved just as it was when it was first openend in the 1930's. The food and service was perfect.
On Wednesday we caught the train to the Jungfraujoch and headed to the foot of the normal route on the Monch. The weather was not good and I met a couple of my colleagues who had just bailed from their attempts. We decided to go and "have a look" without committing ourselves. We made the right call the weather improved , the wind dropped and we had the summit to oourselves.
After the Monch we headed back to Chamonix where the next day Thursday it was raining off and on, so we spent it at Les Gaillands rockclimbing.
On Friday we did something unconventional for mid summers day : We went ski touring. We drove to Les Diablerets took the firt lift up and climbed the peak of Les Diablerets. After which we skied some very good "Spring Snow" back to the lift system.