Friday, December 25, 2009

Stranger than fiction

There is a great story in to days Guardian about a guy hiding from the police in the Val Ferret. I passed this guy first in the middle of Septemeber and then in October on the way to climb the route Genepi at the head of the Val Ferret. I thought he seemed a bit of a hermit but it never crossed my mind that he was on the US most wanted list. Click on the tittle to read the link.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

If you are coming all the way from Denver to ski it better be good

Don Hazell brought his family all the way from Denver to ski in Chamonix. They arrived to a perfect script of cold snowy weather. But all that changed as a vicious Foehn kicked in and closed the lifts. So on our first day we headed to St Gervais. Where we found some heavy but un tracked snow and importantly an excellent lunch at the Ravoire.
Overnight the temperature shot up and it lashed it down. We arrived at Les Grands Montets to find the normal chaos of no one knowing when or if it was going to open. So we canned the day.
Don Nick and Merisa were disappointed because they had heard so much about the mythic status of Grands Montets.
The next day we reconvened to try again and were rewarded with untracked snow all day long and they left feeling well skied.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Skiing with Florence

Florence teacher was ill to day so she got the afternoon off school and we went skiing at Grands Montets. I needed to take some photos for a mountain safety talk I am working on. Florence was the ski model!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Skiing has started!!

Andrea Florence and I went up to Les Grands Montets this afternoon to find our ski legs. The snow was great which is more than can be said about the lift. Same old tired cable cars, same old queue, [forty minutes to wait at the bottom] No thought about opening the adjacent chair lift. But despite all this we had a good time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

50 cm of Snow last night and today

This was the first significant dump of snow this year and it is just what is needed to get everyone excited about the forth coming season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mark the Mountain Guide British Tour

I spent last week back in the UK visiting some schools and talking about how and why I wrote the Mark the Mountain Guide books. I used real pictures to show the children where I got the inspiration for the stories. I finished each talk by showing them all how an Avalanche Beeper worked. I got the children to pass the Beeper around rather like pass the parcel. When I said stop the child who had the bleeper was asked to hide it up their jumper with out me seeing it. It was then up to me to search for the hidden bleeper.
I visited five schools: Folds School, Deepdene and West Hove Infants school [all in the Brighton area]Next I visited Thorngrove School near Newbury and lastly I spent the day at Brookham School in Liphook.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Giant Black Pudding spotted over Chamonix

So I was out cutting the lawn for probably the last time this year when suddenly a giant black pudding passed over head.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our new Crag that seemingly appeared overnight

The other day I was out walking the dog on a path I have used for the last eight years when suddenly I noticed a sign post pointing to a "Site d'escalade." I duly followed the sign into the woods and sure enough there was a giant boulder the size of a house. The boulder had been scrubbed clean and a couple of belay bolts drilled into its summit.
It was as if the boulder had fallen out of the sky because I had never noticed it before.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making the most of Autumn in the Alps

After our day above Champex Reuben and I drove through the Mt Blanc Tunnel and went to climb in the Val Ferret where we did the long route Genepi. Due to its southerly aspect we were in the sun all day ... until we started the rapell descent when it started to drizzle. We just managed to make it back to our rucksacks before the rain settled in for the afternoon.
Next day again the weather was good so we went back through the Mt Blanc tunnel but this time took the cable car into the Valley Blanche from where we climbed the Aiguille du Toule.
Thursday - the forecast was not great so we decided to brush up on our Ice climbing Skills by heading up to the Mer De Glace. The rain did hold off until mid afternoon but when it started it chucked it down.
Friday was again back to the standard we expect. Cold and clear. We headed up to climb above Argentiere. No trip to this area would be complete without an ascent of the Aiguillette de Agentiere.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Another great day on the LA DYURE "L'EPERON DU DARD

This climb is so good that I just wanted to show it to as many people as possible. To day I climbed the route with Reuben Berg. The leaves are starting to turn which just added to the splendeur of the crag. The weather has been perfect for the last two weeks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Climbs New Areas

One thing I love more than anything is exploring new climbs and going to new areas. This is exactly what Peter Little and I did last week. There is a new [ish ] crag up above Champex just over in Switzerland where we climbed two routes created by the well known Verbier Guide Olivier Roduit. The first was the reasonably hard Luc 6a+. The second was the much easier but no less impressive L'Eperon du Dard. This is long rock climb the winds itself up a long spur through spectacular scenary.
Other notable routes we climbed were in the Val Ferret where we climbed the route Genepi. This was a huge slab on perfect granit. What was also great about the week was that we only saw one other set of climbers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dry Glaciers Big Holes

The weather has been exceptionally good for a long period of time. The down side of this is that the glaciers are very icy and there are some enormous crevasses where I have never seen them before.
Robin Tarling and I have just spent four days climbing together. We started by climbing a rock route on the Brevent.
The next day we drove through the Mt Blanc Tunnel and took the cable car up to 3300 meters. We traversered the spectacular Aiguille de Entreves. We then slept the night at the Torino Refuge so that we could get an early start [4.30am] for the Aiguille du Rochfort.

This is where we encountered the huge crevasses - holes big enough to lose a house down. once we had negociated the glacier we found the ridge in very good condition and not a breath of wind.
To day we had an easier day rock climbing above Argentiere at Chezery where we finished with the Aiguillette d'Argentiere

Monday, September 07, 2009

Autumn Blasts

Charles Sherwood and I finished our week together by climbing the arrete du Doigt on Pt Percee. This was not our first plan but as the weather changed and it had snowed over night our we were left with little choice. This was a climb of two sides the south side bathed in sunshine the north side plastered in ice which made the rock climbing difficult/ impossible.

South Face of the Dibona 3130meters

One of the Ecrins best and spectacular rock climbs a must for any keen alpinist visiting the area.
As you walk up to the Soreiller hut below the peak you suddenly walk around the corner and there it is right above you. Charles and I climbed the classic south face route with its amazing tunnel pitch.

Fissure de Ailefroid and beer

After the Barres des Ecrins we needed an easier day, so after a relaxed breakfast we headed across the valley to climb the classic climb of Ailefoid. This is a huge gash in te massive cliff that dominates the village. It is quite unique for a French climb in that has very little bolted protection and you need to carry a full rack of gear.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Barres des Ecrins 4120 meters

The alarm went off at a grim 3.30am. After a quick breakfast we were out of the hut door at 4.00am. We scrambled down the scratchy path and on to the glacier. We strapped on our crampons roped up and set off. We immediately lost the path because all the snow had melted and we were left with glacier ice to follow around a maze of crevasses. Nevertheless we plodded in the right direction until we picked up the path in the snow higher up. After about an hour and a half the climb became a lot steeper and then came to sudden stop. Our progress halted by a monster crevasse. It was not simple to jump over it on the crevasse from the down hill side.
We continued until we arrived at the Dome des Ecrins where everyone else from the hut that morning was going. We turned our attention to the true Summit the Barres its- self. The climb moves from snow to a wonderful rocky scramble where we reached the top in about an hour from the col. We sat around on the top for about 20 minutes contemplating the knee smashing descent of 2300 vertical meters back to the car.

Charging the battery

Charles Sherwood and I headed down to the Ecrins for a change of scene. Our big plan was to climb the Barres des Ecrins. On our first day we walked up to the Glacier Blanc hut inorder to gain some acclimatisation. On our second day we plodded up to the Ecrins Hut. We arrived quite early in the day. On top of the flat top roof there was an exercise bike. Charles asked the guardian if he might have a go on the bike. She said of course and rushed up to the roof terrace where she plugged the bike into a battery!
Charles then diligently pedaled away for 45 minutes. Not a bad effort at 3100 meters

Father and Daughter climbing

Charles and Tabatha joined me for tow days alpine rock climbing before they embarked on their weeks paragliding course.
Tabatha had never climbed multi pitch alpine rock climbs before. So we headed up La Flegere where we climbed the Nez Rouge. A not too difficult rock climb which is a perfect introduction to alpine rock climbing. The only down side was that the mist came in restricting the fabulous view.
Nevertheless the next day we headed up Le Brevent where the view was crystal clear. We climbed the very mellow Micky et Moussia.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aigulle du Van. Route with no name.

Again if you want a very good climb in a unique position high above the Emmosson Dam and you want to have the route all to your selves then head up to the Aigulle du Van.
This is what Chris Dovell and I did. Chris was fresh back from climbing Everest where his rock climbing skills were by his own admission under used.
The climb is on brand new bolts and is 7 pitches long. The descent is via a scramble off the summit back down to the Bar for a beer before heading back to Chamonix.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Boulton Boy's

Albert Arthur and their Father Chris joined me for four days of alpine rock climbing. We had stunningly good weather for the entire time. If anything it was rather too hot at times. Especially when we climbed the stunning Aiguilette de Argentiere.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to Basics

Vanessa and Steve had completed a considerable amount of mountaineering both on skis and on foot. Nevertheless they felt had been left with a feeling that all the Guides who had taken them on their trips had provided them with great experiences but had taught them very little. They were very keen to go back to basics and learn the fundamental skills that underpin all mountaineering. We spent two days together: The first was on the Mer de Glace learning everything there is to know about crampons and ice axes plus belaying on ice.
My brief for the second day was to teach them the skills of safe crevasse rescue. We went to the top of the Grands Montets, found a suitable crevasse and the Steve and Vanessa took turns to jump into it while the other fished them out. They proved to each other it was possible to extract someone from a crevasse entirely on their own but it was not something they ever wanted to do for real.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Highest Book Shop in Europe 3613meters/11,860feet

Yesterday Florence and I made a delivery of several copies of Mark the Mountain Guide to the Cosmiques Refuge, where they are now on sale to passing Mountaineers who want souveiners to take back home for their children.
The delivery was not super simple. It required negociating a knife edge Ridge then crossing a glacier to then a short climb up to refuge where we spent the night.

This morning we left the refuge at just before 9.00am and climbed back the way we had come in just under an hour which is fast even for my eight year old "book porter."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not so dry anywhere

We started the week on a dry note and it went fairly damp pretty quickly. This shot of the sun resting over the Minch was briefly glimpsed after a deluge on the Cuillin, Corie Lagan section of an attempted traverse.

The day had started well enough with a pleasant boat trip into Loch Scavaig, until around , mid-afternoon when the clouds closed in. On our second day after a dry bivouac, we made it as far as Sgurr Mhadaidh before the damp conditions and slippery rock forced a retreat.

Forced away from Skye to the relative dryness of Glen Nevis, we managed a few good routes in between the showers.

Abseiling today on Agags Groove.

Today the weather had forecast a clearing from the west. It cleared many times, only to be replaced by more showers!

Fairly damp on Agags Groove today.