Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beautiful Autumn weather and then it all fell apart

Peter little joined me for the second time this summer. Like last time the weather was very good except this time we decided to spend our week based in Chamonix.
We spent 3 days climbing above La Flegere. It was quiet and beautifully warm so we could climb in T shirts.
On our 4th day we decided to re visit the Cosmiques Arete which Peter & I had climbed in winter some 14 years ago.
It was impossible to imagine finding the route in better condition with it all to our selves and clear windless skies.
On Friday the weather changed. It was due to rain in the afternoon so we decided to see if we could climb the Voie Caline to les Mottets. An easy but 400m ascent. We managed this in an hour just as the first spots of rain hit.
It has been raining ever since

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Autumn is fast approaching

Autumn is coming which is great. Kids are back at school everyone has gone home,Chamonix is just wonderful its not so hot [and therefore much safer] We have big anticyclones siting over the alps and everything is just perfect.
This was the situation Dee David and Peter found when they arrived. We spent our first day on the Mer de Glace learning stuff about ice axes and crampons. The next day we traversed the aiguille de Crochue and hardly saw a soul .
On the Sunday we climbed the petit aguille Verte. Here we met lots of people most of them "with all the gear and no idea" they had clearly spent a fortune in the mountaineering shops. It is a pity they could not spend some of their budget on finding someone who could teach them how to use it safely? Anyway just thought?
On Monday we decided to go rock climbing as it had rained and snowed high up. We climbed the very long voie Caline up to Les Mottets Buvet [which was sadly closed for the season]
Dee and David then had to go home. Peter and I then decided to climb one of Chamonix's most famous rock climbs - the Chapelle des Glieres.

Monday, September 06, 2010

L'ArĂȘte Kuffner on Mt Maudit 4465m

So after our skiing we trundled back to Chamonix stopping at Arnad to climb the classic Bucce d'Arancia .
The next day we made a leisurly start and took the Aiguille du Midi cable car over to Italy where we strolled over to the Fourche Bivy. I was a bit worried because I had no idea how busy the bivy might be. As we approached there were signs of climbers already there.

I was somewhat surprised when I stuck my head through the door to find the occupants were not unshaven grotty alpinists but two good looking women.

Next morning we left the hut at about 5.00am there were other climbers coming directly from the Torino hut who held us up a bit , but eventually Charles and I managed to overtake them and get into a good rhythm helped by perfect conditions we were able to reach the summit in just under 4 hours.
I would have no issue with the guide book which described the route as one of the finest climbs in the alps. It was magnificent.

Let's go Ski Touring in August

What do you do when there is too much snow to attempt the route you had planned ? Simple you go skiing. This is exactly what Charles Sherwood and I did. Charles had failed to climb the Parrotspitze 8 years ago due to artic weather conditions. So I suggested that we try again. We drove around to Gressoney and took the cable car upto Puntra Indren and carried our skis to the new Mantova Hut.
Next day we carried our skis for about 20 minutes before finding enough snow to start skinning up toward the Parrotspitze. Now if the weather had been bad 8 years ago it was just as bad this time. The wind was like a bad winters day in the Cairngorms and it was bitterly cold. At one point I was knocked off my feet by gust of wind and blown along the ground helpless to stop. We struggled on to the Balenhorn bivy hut where we dived under the blankets in an attempt to warm up. After a couple of hours the wind dropped and we dared to venture out. After an hour we dumped the skis and climbed the impressive ridge to the summit of the Parrotspitze.
It was then on with the skis and back to the lift station in about an hour.