Friday, December 29, 2006

Ice Fall Climbing

We seem to have had days and days of beautiful cold clear weather the result is that many of Chamonix's ice-falls have come into condition. Roger Cunliffe and I have been able to spend the last four days climbing some fantastic ice climbs in and around the Chamonix valley.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Glacier du Toule

We thought the snow was good yesterday but today it was even better and we had good clear weather. Tom Henry Xavier and I drove through the Mt Blanc Tunnel and caught the cable car up in to the Valley Blanche. We then skinned up to the col du Freshfield. In the afternoon we skied the Glacier du Toule and again we saw no one.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stunning snow conditions on the col de la Terrace

Despite the fact that most of the skiing is not yet open in Chamonix there is infact loads of good snow. Today Tom Lyster and Henry Faure Walker and I skinned up to the Col de La terrace and then skied untracked light snow all the way back to the Land Rover. We saw no one all day.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

We Have Snow. [At last]

The snow has at last arrived. We had about 20 cm of fresh in the garden. It has been raining all week and snowing down to about 2000 meters.
None of the lifts are open for skiing as yet. Les Grands Montets have some "technical problems" which is nothing new. They decided in October that they better change the cable car cabin. The new one was ordered and would have been delivered but the lorry driver went under a bridge that was too low and sliced the top off the new cabin. The year before they did exactly the same thing with the new cable for the Aiguille du Midi and got that stuck.

Monday, October 16, 2006

North Face Eiger Storms

Charles Sherwood and I went round to the North Face of the Eiger with a perfect five day forecast.
We set off in good conditions and climbed really quickly. But as we got to the top of "The Difficult Crack" it started to snow. The weather came from nowhere.Thinking it was just a passing shower We pushed on and then it just dumped and dumped snow as if someone was emptying bags of flower over our heads.
We had really sketchy climbing to get to the Hinterstoisser Traverse where we just got hit by monster spindrift avalanches.We managed to get to the Swallows Nest bivy which is sheltered from above and slept the night there.During the night the weather cleared and the helicopter came in and took two groups off who were below and who were caught in "no-mans land" and had fallen off.
The helicopter reluctantly offered to pick us off at about 10.00pm and they were relieved when we said we were okay and intended to carry on in the morning. However when morning came it was clear that we were not going up.Going back looked like a Guides worse nightmare so we got a REGA helicopter to pull us off at about 9.00am.Sunday morning.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Perfect October climbing conditions

We now have perfect anticyclonic autumn weather with beautiful clear and warm days. Yesterday Mike Woolford Stephen Yates , Steve Trantum and I climbed Point Lachenal 3613m. To day we drove upto to the barrage du Emosson from where we climbed the imposing Aiguille du Van 2572m.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Introduction to Alpine Mountaineering

Roger Brookes and Martyn Read came to Chamonix with the aim of getting to grips with Alpine climbing. On our first day went to the Mer de Glace where we spent the day learning everything there is to know about ice axes and crampons What to do with them and what NOT to do with them. We finished the day climbing vertical ice out of a crevasse.
Next day we went through the Mt Blanc Tunnel to Italy and up the Helbronner cable car. From there we traversed the Aiguille du Marbrees 3389m in perfect super clear autumn weather.
On our third day we climbed one of the most spectacular routes in Chamonix the Cosmiques Spur. The climb finishes by climbing over the railings onto the viewing platform at the top of the Aiguille du Midi 3842m.
Our final day was frustrated by a change in the weather which meant we couldn't climb Mt Blanc du Tacul4248m. Instead we did one of my favorite routes the very long Via Cordia, a 600m multi pitch rock climb. Some how we completed it without getting wet. Just as we got back to the Land Rover the heavens opened.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dent Du Midi 3257m

Peter Little and I started the week by climbing high above Montreux We climbed the Dent de Jaman a giant limestone pillar with stunning views over lake Geneva.
Then after some great climbing in the Aiguille Rouge above Chamonix and with a perfect weather forecast we headed off to the remote mountain range of the Dents du Midi where we were lucky enough to climb the spectacular Dent Jaune 3186m via "Vire aux Genevois."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Traverse of Mt Blanc 4810m

Roger Cunliffe has wanted to climb Mt Blanc for several years but each time he was thwarted by the weather or poor conditions. Today the wait was worth it because we traversed Mt Blanc from the Aiguille du Midi over the top and down via the Dome du Gouter. Conditions were perfect. We left the Cosmique Hut at 3.30am. We had a full moon no wind and snow that gripped crampons like cork. These conditions plus our good acclimatization allowed us to move very very quickly and we hit the summit at 9.00am. It was warm enough to picnic on the summit before running down the Bosses ridge past the Vallot Hut then on down to the Gouter Hut down the ridge and finishing up at the Nid d'agile "railway station"

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Challenging conditions

The weather has not been good this August. Despite this Charles Sherwood and I managed to climb continuously for ten days. We started rock climbing in the Aiguille Rouge. It soon became clear that the weather in Chamonix was going to get really bad but good further East so we headed to Saas Grund. From the Hohass Hut we traversed the Weissmies [4023] and stayed at the Almageller Hut. The next day we traversed the Pizzo d'Andolla via the Portjengrat a route that is justifiably described in the guide as one of the finest in the alps.
Next day we managed to fit in a traverse of the Dri Hornli [3209m] before another big storm hit.
The storm put down a lot of fresh snow so we rock climbed below the snow line while we waited for conditions to settle down. Eventually we spotted a short weather window and headed up to the Albert 1er ready to make an attempt on the little known Gabarrou Couloir on the Grand Fourche [3619m]
This proved to be a big day out as the conditions underfoot and overhead made the climbing challenging. Having left the hut at 4.00am we were greeted 12 hours later at the door by Claude Charlet the guardian with steaming bowls of Tea and cake.

Tours of the Oberland

John Eastgate and I traveled through the Oberland climbing at different venues each day. We climbed on the Stockhorn which is above lake Thun. We visited the beautiful village of Kandersteg and climbed the imposing Gallihorn
We then went to Grindlewald and stayed at the world famous Kleine Scheidegg hotel before going up the Jungfrau train and trekking over the longest glacier in the alps the Aletschgletscher.
We finished of the week by going round the Furka pass and climbing on the Rhone glacier the source of the river Rhone.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rock climbing

Andrew Montgomery and his son Chris climbed a variety of rock climbs in and around chamonix. We were frustrated by the weather which didn't allow us to get up high and climb a big peak but we did mange to climb some long multi pitch rock climbed in the Aiguille rouge which went some way to compensate for the indifferent weather.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


We had a perfect week. The weather and the plan came together marvelously. Chris and his sister Tamsin Dovell plus me and Chamonix Guide Jean-Christophe Beche climbed the Mittellegi Ridge and descended via the south ridge. Conditions on the ridges were as good as they can get.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Traverse of the Trient plateau

Viv, Fiona, Stephen and Stephen set off from Le Tour and walked to the Albert 1er mountain refuge. For three of the team it was to be their first night in a mountain hut. The next day we awoke at 5.ooam and set off for the Trient plateau. Again this was to be their first time walking on a glacier. We crossed into Switzerland over a col at 3200m and then traversed the Trient glacier before arriving at the wonderful Trient Hut in time for lunch and cold beers on the terrace.
The next day we walked down to the village stopping at the Orney Hut for morning coffee. We arrived in Champex having completed the first part of the famous Haute- Route and [depending on which member of the team you talk to] potentially setting up the walk to Zermatt next summer.

This trip was described by the participants as "Seaton's Saga tours" the moto being brilliantly summed up by Stephen Yates as: "guaranteed to get Everyone Everywhere.... Eventually."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Varied climbing around Chamonix

Last week Reuben Berg took the opportunity not only to do some varied climbing but also to catch up with his adult children. Firstly he was joined by Emma for some rock climbing and then a few days with his son Antony.
We started by climbing the longest rock climb in the Chamonix valley the "Via Cordia."<>. This is a great climb to get use to the concept of moving quickly over a variety of rock.
On Monday we climbed the Eperon Sublime above Flegere
We then did the traverse of the Aiguille du Crochue in the Aiguiile Rouge.
Next we had a change of scene and went to climb a Via ferrata at the Col Des Aravis

On Thursday we went and climbed Point Lachenal in the valley blanche.
We finished the week by climbing the clocher- chlochotons above Brevent. The Tyroean Traverse left a lasting impression.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Weissmiess and Monster Trottis

Peter Folkman and I have been climbing above Saas Grund. On Tuesday we traversed the Dri Hornli. A rocky ridge made of perfect grannit. Of its kind it is one of the best routes in the alps. On Wednesday we traversed the Weismiess 4022m. We left the Allmergella Hut at 4.30am and climbed the south east ridge arriving at the summit at about 9.30am.
The descent proved to be tricky. The snow had not frozen and as we descended the snow turned to mush. Near the bottom the snow bridges across the crevasses felt as if they were made of cloud and there were a few heart in the mouth moments. It needs to freeze hard before this route becomes viable.
On Thursday we climbed the spectacular via ferratta on the Jagihorn. Soon to be even more stomach churning by the completion of a wire walk way between the two peaks.
We then hired two "Monster -Trottis" Oversized scooters with moon buggy wheels. We used these to cruise down the track back to Saas Grund. This would have been a wonderful 50 minute descent IF it hadn't started to lash it down just as we saw our ruck sacks and waterproofs loaded onto the cable car .

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Snowed off Mt Blanc 4810m

Yesterday a group of us "strolled" up to the Refuge du Gouter. It wasn't quite the hell- hole it normally is because the train was not working. Why the train wasn't working nobody seems to know [or care]. Consequently far fewer people were prepared to walk the extra hour and a half.
This morning the 2.00am wake up call came and went due to a huge storm, fresh snow, and very strong winds. We were left with no choice but to descend back to the valley - where as so often the weather was sultry and hot.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Aiguille du Chardonnet 3824m

Certain routes are in perfect condition, not least the Eperon Migot on the north face of the Chardonnet.
yesterday we walked to the Albert 1er Refuge from the village of Le Tour. [It is still too early for the cable cars to open for the summmer.]

This morning Stuart Bygrave and I had breakfast at 2.00am and set off at 3.45am The climb was in perfect condition and the neve was like cork. We arrived on the summit at 8.00am. We were totally alone

Friday, May 26, 2006

Skiing is still very good

Chris and Kim Dovell and I had two days ski touring around the Emosson Dam. Yesterday we climbed the Point de La Terrace and to day we climbed the Bel Oiseau
The skiing conditions are still very good especially today as the skiing was as good as it gets.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Late May skiing.

Andrea and I climbed up to the GD St Bernard Monastery on our ski mountaineering skis and spent the night. Andrea met the Monks and was introduced to Justy the Avalanche search dog who is a Golden Retriver not a St Bernard. [They are too big to climb into helicopters.]
This morning we skied back down on beautiful spring snow and back to the car.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Emosson Dam

Last Friday the road to the Emosson Dam was opened for the summer Mark Hanson and Robin Tarling and I left the car park at 6,30am while the snow was still frozen and to ensure that we got good spring skiing on the descent.
We Crossed the Dam and climbed up to the Point de La Terrace.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rogue report from the High Sierras, California, USA

Mark's friends & clients call in to test out the new audio blog, fresh from a weekend trip down to the spectacular High Sierras. They climbed & skied a couple of nice corn-snow descents. Hear what makes the High Sierra such a great place to spring ski...

The picture shows Beth tromping up the very large Mt. Wood (no ski lifts here!)

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Perfect Spring Touring Conditions

Patrick Keatinge Mike Tothill joined me straight from skiing across the Hero's of Telemarks route in Norway. Last year Patrick trekked to the North Pole, so this year they wanted something steeper.
We started with the Col du Argentiere. The next day we climbed up to the cabane du Velan in indifferent weather. The next day we climbed Mt Velan in just under six hours. We skied perfect snow all the way back in about 45 minutes. We spent another night in the Hut and the next day toured over to the Super St Bernard Ski station.
Finally on May Day we finished the week with an ascent of Le Buet. The ski from the summit was perfect. Not a bad turn on the whole descent.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Andrea Ski's the Valley Blanche

Andrea [7 years old] enjoyed perfect conditions as she skied the Valley Blanche for the first time in under an hour.

Wildhorn 3247 m

Last week saw the most stable weather for some considerable time. Perfect snow cover, clear skies at night blue skis the next day which meant perfect spring snow.

Peter Folkman andI drove around to Les Diablerets cable car. After climbing the summit of Diablerets we skied down to the Cabanne Prarochet and spent the night.
Next day we left at 7.00am and toured over to the Cabannes des Audannes. It was a Saturday the weather and conditions were perfect but we hardly saw a sole.
The Cabannes des Audannes would go into anyones top ten mountain huts. The next morning we left at 6.00am and climbed the Wildhorn in about two hours. We skied from its summit past the Wildhorn Hut and on to the road head and down to Lenk.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mont Velan 3731 m

At the start of the week We had great snow for off piste skiing but poor conditions for hut to hut ski touring. Eventually we got a good forecast and so Tom Becky Nathan and Me set off for Mt Velan. We put our skis on and started climbing from the road in Bourg St Pierre. Four hours later we arrived at my favourite hut in the Alps the Velan Mountain Hut.
Next day we set off at 6.00am just as dawn broke. It was a perfect day. After about 2 hours we had a challanging climb over the Col du Gouille. This involved putting the skis on our backs and using a series of chains to help us over the top. On the other side we had to absiel down to the glacier.
We arrived on the summit at 11.45am. Far below us we could see the Grands St Bernard Monastery.
An hour and a half later we were back at the car having enjoyed stunning skiing.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Col du Argentiere

So far in April we have had a day of snow followed by a day of beautiful weather. To day was good. Chris Dovell and I skied off the top of Grands Montets through the seracs zoomed across the Argentiere glacier and then climbed up to the Col du Argentiere. On the descent we had every type of snow from powder to sun crust to spring snow.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Le Buet 3020m

Chris Dovell & I set off from the car park at 7.00am and arrived at the summit of Le Buet at 12.00. Stunning views from the summit but cold and windy. We got some good skiing in on the way down but the legs were not quite as fresh as we would have wanted after 1800 meters of ascent.
The beer at the Hotel Le Buet was most welcome

Monday, April 03, 2006


I spent the last week in Zermatt. We had mixed weather with lots of fresh snow. This snow fell with no wind. Friday produced stunning skiing with descent after descent of untracked powder.
Now back in Chamonix and still it snows.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Grands Montets lift broken again

We were skiing at Grands Montets to day. Despite it being very warm we had good snow and it never really turned slushy. We felt sorry for the people who got stuck in the Grands Montets lift when it broke down for over two hours .

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Important information for telemarkers

Anyone thinking of ski touring in the alps on telemark gear should down load the above video.

Off-piste at Grands Montets today

I was skiing at Grands Montets today. New snow but quite heavy but we still managed to put fresh tracks in all day The top lift was broken [again] .