Sunday, December 28, 2008

Harvey's first overnight ski tour

Harvey Dovell plus me and his Dad trekked up to the Grand St Bernard Monastery where we spent a wonderful night, being wined and dined by the Monks. It was cold but still and clear. This morning we skied back down the Comb des Morts had a cup of coffee and then took the Super ST Bernard gondola. from the top we scramled into Italy and then skied the stunning descent to Etroubles. Lunch was at the famous Croix Blanche. We then took a taxi back through the Gd St Bernard tunnel picked up the car and cruised back to Chamonix ending a couple of perfect days adventure.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Back up to Full Speed

I started the winter skiing season with two outstanding days skiing. Tom Xavier and Henry and I threaded our way through the Breche du Crochue and skied perfect snow on slopes which just kept on unfolding in front of us. It was hard to imagine it being better.
Yesterday the boys decided they were up for a big day. We left the house at 7.30am and started skinning at 8.30am well above Sallanches. 1350 meters higher up we peeled the skins off as we stood on the summit of Les Quatre Tetes. We even met the Chamonix Pizza man on the summit.
We then skied the north face. Although the snow was no where as good as the previous day it was okay. We were back at the Land Rover an hour after leaving the summit. It was then that the most memorable part of the day started as I reversed the car down a very icy track and got it well and truely stuck in a ditch covered in snow. Two hours later and some admirable team work we had dug the car out and attached chains to all four wheels, transforming the Land Rover into an unstoppable tractor. The boys did not miss their flights and will be back with their families for Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Italian Ice Climbing

To day Alan Kimber amd I drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel towards Aosta and headed up to the tiny village of Cogne where we climbed the pleasant Cascade du Liaz. Four pitches, one quite steep and one just steep.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Serious amounts of snow

The British Mountain Guides are having their annual dinner here in Chamonix at the weekend and my friend Alan Kimber is staying with us. To day he was out in the garden buildingt snow shelters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big Snow and it's still only November

It has snowed about half a meter, its cold and it's all looking very good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rock Climbing in the autum sunshine

If you choose the right crags ones that faces the sun then rock climbing us very pleasant on the valley crags. I managed to nip out a couple of times in the last week once with Jane and one with a fellow Guide Jean Christophe Beche. He climbs at a much higher standard than me and I stuggled...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Dovell's Day Out

Chris Dovell and I have climbed a considerable amount of famous alpine peaks together. Including the Eiger Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. To day we went out with Kim and their son Harvey. We climbed the very long via Cordia in beautiful Autumn sunshine.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jane wants sponsors.

Jane is going to run in the London Marathon next April. Click on the widget to foind out more about the charity Outward Bound.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mark the Mountain Guide gets his own website

Over the weekend the Mark the Mountain Guide went live. You can now download your own computer wallpaper and buy the book direct from the website.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Wrong sort of Snow

Peter Little started the week with some brilliant weather and rock climbing. We then did the Traverses of the Aiguille de Entreve. On Wednesday we had a mellow day doing a Via Ferratta above Plateau de Assey. Andrea came along too. On Thursday we drove over to Martigny and climbed the spectacular Tichodrome - one of the must do rock climbs in the Valais.
Then it snowed- we have about 10 cm in the garden this morning.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn is here

Autumn nearly always one of the best times to climb in the Alps. No one around and the cooler weather makes it much safer too. Wendy Crabb and I had three very good days together. On our first day we climbed my new favourite peak the aigullie du Van, then we climbed the aiguille du Toule on the Italian ridge of the Valley Blanche. On Sunday we climbed the long rock climb the Via Cordia. We saw two people on our routes the entire time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Patagonia blog features Mark the Mountain Guide

Just a head of the US release of the book Patagonia have been kind enough to review the book.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not enough snow to ski. Too much snow to walk the Haute Route

Stephen Yeates, Viv Hickman and Steve & Fiona Trantrum and I set off to try and finish the second half of the Haute Route. We took an extreme taxi ride to the door of the Chanrion Hut. This was no ordinary taxi driver check out the link. The next day we set off for the Dix Hut but had to turn round at the col de Lire Rose because there was too much snow to cross it safely. We returned to the Chanrion Hut and called the Dix Hut to let them know we could not make it. With alarming surprise the Dix Hut did not seem to grasp we turned round for safety reasons. Which suggests the Guardian knows little about mountains
We quickly came up with a plan B - called back the taxi and headed up to the Brunnet Hut which is run by a very strict women. The next day Monday we traversed to the Cabane de Mille which enjoyed spectacular views towards the Mt Blanc massif. On Tuesday we had a very pleasant walk into Liddes where once again we picked up our taxi back to Martigny for lunch at Plan Cerises.
On our final day we all went rock climbing in Chamonix in beautiful autum sunshine

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mont Blanc 4810 meters

I made a very rare trip up MT Blanc this morning. It was made very easy by having fantastic conditions a full moon and a super fit client Robin Tarling. [I put rocks in his ruck-sack to slow him down.] We arrived on the summit in just over 3 hours as dawn broke. It was cold so we did not hang around but raced back to the Gouter Hut for a well earned omlette.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pigne d'Arolla 3795 meters

John Eastgate and I climbed the Pigne d'Arolla from the village of Arolla yesterday. We drove round from Chamonix and walked up to the Vignettes Hut. It took about four hours and it was touch and go whether we got wet. After a pleasnt night we had the entire ascent to our selves and saw no one all day. The photo show the dramatic situation of the Vignettes Hut.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lots and Lots of Rock climbing

The weather went a bit bonkers so Roger Cunliffe's and my plan to climb the Matterhorn had to be postponed until next year. Instead we had some fantastic rock climbing. On our first day we climbed the Tichodrome near Martigny. On Tuesday we Traversed the Aigulle de Entreve. Wednesday we climbed in the Aigulle Rouge. Thursday it chucked it down so we did a lot of rope work. On Friday we climbed one of the best rock routes of the season on the lonely Aigulle du Van above the Emosson Dam. On Saturday we squeezed in the long climb Les Razmokets before it started to rain.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Aiguille de Peuterey Blanche

Charles Sherwood and I topped off a fine weeks climbing by climbing the north face of the Aiguille de Peuterey Blanche, the most difficult 4000er in the Alps.

We began by bivying below Col Moore, then departing at We finished by topping out on Mont Blanc then descending via the Gouter Hut.

See photos.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alpine Beach Holiday

Just had a very good three days with father and son team Chris & Albert Boulton. We were joined by 6 year old Arthur for some rock climbing at Les Houches. Yesterday we traversed the Aiguille de Crochue and nearly fell in the Lac Blanc [ see photo]
To day it chucked it down and was cold . We headed to Martigny and had a very good days rock climbing and acquiring the new skills for what ever adventures lie ahead in the future.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A week in Saas Grund with some high altitude bathing

I went to work with my Mentor of 20 years ago Alan Kimber. We were running an Alpine training course with 12 clients and three Guides [Rob Jarvis was the third] We had settled weather for the six days. We managed to climb two 4000 meter peaks spent a day on the glacier and did a Via Ferratta. Alan for more info and some great photos click on the link.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Switzerlands Regal Peaks

Some peaks stand head and shoulders above others in terms of thier aesthetic presense and Liskamm is one of them. Peter Little and I were lucky enough to do the complete traverse between the west and east summits in perfect conditions. Prior to that we had our usual mix of new routes and solitude and of course a little [mechanical] mis adventure.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

That Looks Really Really Scary

So our plan was to get some acclimatiastion so that we could possibly have a go at Mt Blanc at the end of the week. In an attempt not to the normal Mt Blanc acclimatisation thing of following eeveryone else around a limited amount of crowded mountain huts, Reuben and I headed for Saas Grund where we could gain some acclimatiation on the world's scariest Via Ferratta on the Jagihorn. It is scary because it crosses a thin cable between twin peaks a couple of thousand meters above the ground.
The next day we climbed the Weimesses with perfect snow conditions but a strong cold wind.
We returned to Chamonix where we were faced with a detiorating weather forecast. We brought our attempt on Mt Blanc forward a day in an attempt to beat the weather. Instead of going via the Gouter Hut we went up to the Cosmique Hut. Our intention was to climb Mt Blanc via the traverse.
We breakfasted at 1.00am and set off up Mt Blanc du Tacul at 2.00am. We made very good progress but at the shoulder of Mt Maudit the wind was too strong and reluctantly turned back. Better safe than sorry.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Old Man Of Hoy

Rock climbs do not come better than the Iconic Old Man Of Hoy. We did a warm up on the Old Man of Stoer [In the pouring rain] and the Peter Folkman Charles Sherwood and I climbed the Old Man Of Hoy Last Friday. Click on the title to see all the photos

Friday, June 20, 2008

Training for Alpine Climbing

Anders Sandholm, Martin Hutle and Giles Monnickendam joined me for a week with the brief to learn as much as possible about alpine climbing so they could go off and do it by them selves. We spent the first day on the Mer de Glace learning everything there is to mo know about ice climbing. We then spent the next day learning about climbing snow - snow belays and Ice axe arrest.
On our third day we attempetd to climb the Aiguille de Marbre but were thwarted by too much deep snow. On our fourth day we did the traverses of the aiguille du Crochues and on the fifth we climbed the Cosmique arrete on the Aiguille du Midi in perfect weather but we got caught in a que of Italians who had no idea about anything other than talking a lot.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mark the Mountain Guide on youtube

Mark the Mountain Guide
Anyone who wants to see sneak preview of the book can go to the link to view it by clicking on the title Mark the Mountain Guide on youtube.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Haute Route

The unstable April weather stopped and we got a week of perfect weather and exceptional snow. August and Turi and Valdi managed to go from Chamonix to Zermatt by the most pure version of the Haute Route. This meant that we avoided the inevitable road break between Champex and Bourg St Pierre by going via La Fouly and then then the Grand St Bernard Monastery.
Day 1 Les Grand Montets to Saleina Hut
Day 2 To La Fouly. We started at 5.00am to stay safe and get good snow
Day 3 To Gd St Bernard. Again super early start to avoid avalanche risk.
Day 4 Velan Hut
Day 5 To Chanrion Hut. Very big day. Big climb and a perfect ski descent
Day 6 To Vignettes Hut. Glacier Ottema . long plod
Day 7 Zermatt. quick celebratory beer then 17 minute helicopter flight back to Chamonix.

Max's First Ski Tour

The Chamonix lift system confused its self. They announced at La Flegere they were going to close for the end of the season. They then changed their minds and re opened because there was so much snow. However they forgot to tell anyone. This was good for Max and I because we could go and do the Col Crochue Berard ski tour and enjoy very good conditions and solitude.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is this the best all terrain skier ever?

Well this guy Hannes Margrditer is an Austrian Ski Instructor who came heliskiing with me and I have never seen anyone ski better.
Kevin O'sullivan Andy Small Shane Cliff and Hannes managed to do two heli drops on the Plateau du Trient. Apart from one rather breakable crust momment we had good spring snow conditions. On the Sunday we got dropped on the Petit Combin. To start with we had okay snow then we had really crap snow and then we had really good perfect spring snow and skied all the way to the valley.
On Monday the weather was not good enough to fly so we skied at Les Grands Montets. The boys were shocked at how old battered tattered and closed the lifts were. Never the less despite the best efforts of the lift company to ruin a days skiing we had a very good time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Super Mums

Alison Smith Katy Ferguson and Emma Greenaway, carved out some time away from children to go heliskiing, ski touring and a night in a refuge. They also got an adventure because neither plan A nor plan B worked. Plan A failed due to bad weather, plan B failed because we could not climb over the icey coll. Plan C went like this. We took a helicopter to the Petit Combin attempted to traverse the col du Meitin but turned back and spent a very pleasant wine filled night at the Cabin Passoniere. Next day we traversed a steep col and skied down under the north face of the Petit Combin and skied into the Brunet Hut for morning coffee before skiing perfect spring snow back to the valley.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April Showers and April Snow

I spent the last week in Verbier with Fiona and Reuben Berg. Apart from one day it snowed at some point every day without any wind so the snow conditions were very good.
One day was particuarly memorable at Les Savoleyres. We skied off the back of the resort and then found our way back to the piste via a tunnel which conviently lead us through the mountain.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Plenty of Up Hill but it was worth it

The early April weather is proving to be April shower like. It is unstable but has produced some great snow conditions. Tom Lyster Natham Ball and Phil Taylor and I managed to take full advantage. On our first day we skinned up to the col du Belvedere in poor weather. Despite this we still had very good snow for the descent. Next we climbed up behind Le Tour and skied down to Trient. We saw no one. On Our third day we climbed up to the col du Floria in clear weather. From my point of view I skied the best pitch of snow all season with perfect turn after perfect turn.
Finally we attempted to climb the Bel Oiseau above Finhault. After 3 hours and 1200 meters of climbing we decided to stop at the col and not go to the summit because it was just too hot and we were concerned about the avalanche risk. In stead we decided to make sure we would have some good skiing, which we did.