Thursday, 31 December 2009

Puking snow at the Grand Montets Bon Annee

Minging in town today but by the time we made it up to Grand Montets the snow was still falling heavy then it started to clear. A good load of snowfall from yesterday (50cm+) with the addition of todays dumping found us faceplanting big piles of the fresh white stuff

Carl enjoying the powder from the Herse

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


20th - Le Tour (as below)
21st - Work
22nd - Work
23rd-26th - UK
27th - Work
28th - Work (sense the pattern!)
29th - Courmayeur

I was driving yesterday and took some clients over to Courmayeur. Anyway, this gave Tom and I a great excuse to grab a few hours skiing. It was raining in Chamonix but snowing in Courmayeur, yes it was wet snow and the 'powder' was heavy but best under the lifts and in the trees. Absolutely spent after a few hours!

Just making some final preperations for the up and coming Scotland trip where I will be taking a university group out for 6 days winter skills courses followed by a cheeky weekend of climbing.

No pics....need a new camera!


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Pow Le Tour

Still a few tufts of heather kicking around to send you off course....

Fresh tracks near the pistes still going in the afternoon!

Didn't have to venture far today to find the fresh stuff. The best days skiing so far i'd say. VERY cold though!

Chamonix Opening

16th - Ski Grand Montets, reasonable snow covering but really hanging on a big dump. I think this is because I am getting fussy!
17th - Work
18th - Work
19th - Ski Brevent & Flegere, today was the first lift opening (80% of Cham) so Carl and I got the first bin of the season up to the top and enjoyed the first tracks. About 15-20cm of fresh snow on an icy layer was fun and there were some deep patches. Snow very light and fluffy so nice start to the year!

No action shots yet as not got camera sorted but here sis one from the balcony this morning. Town is looking snowy and al the decorations up...let it snow!

We were going to go have a look at Cogne today for some ice climbing but not great reports just yet. Just aiming at getting those ski legs sorted!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Scotland / Chamonix

Tower Gully
(photo from Byron)

As I was on my way out to Chamonix for 10 days or so, a good friend Byron sent me a wee email with some snaps of his weekend in Scotland.

Looks great up there. Since then, I have been out skiing at the Grand Montets (yesterday) which was pretty nice. The snow covering is good but there are still a few areas that need more snow and at least some fresh stuff. Ice is shaping up relatively slowly by the looks of things.

Here is a pic of Scotland for now, might get out to Courmayeur by the end of the week. Busy working!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Goodbye Beach > Psyched for Snow...Lets go Skiing

Wow, so it has been a year since I started this blog! That went quite quickly... it has been an amazing year with great times had with great mates in and out of the mountains.

This year sees Jen and I heading back to Chamonix for the winter, really please to have some good mates there who are really up for getting out ski touring and climbing.

I am just getting mentally prepared for the action by watching steep and getting pretty excited about this coming season.

As its the time of year to fashion a christmas list together (which does just happen to consist of big wall climbing handbooks!), I have been spending a bit more time on a bit of a winter wish list around Chamonix. Like last year I will be keeping a blog on events and uploading a few photos of the adventures, please feel free to make comments and let me know how you are getting on with conditions around the Cham valley.

Some routes I am thinking about..... (excluding valley ice)

Aiguille Verte - Nant Blanc Face, Y Couloir
Aiguille du Midi - Eugster Direct
Monch - NW Buttress, Lauper Route (N Face)
Supercouloir - Tacul
Migot Spur - Chardonnet
Cosmiques Icefall
Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey - N Face
Modica Noury etc - Tacul

Breche Puiseux
Col du Passon (never got round to it last year!)
Cosmiques Couloir
Ski Mont Blanc
Aiguille Argentiere from the valley from an early start
Loads of repeats from last year.....
maybe need some more inspiration here (Mont Dolent Ski)

As usual this tends to change as I actually read what the route consists of!!!

See you in Chamonix :)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Trekking in the Solokhumbu, Nepal

A quick update. We are in Kathmandu right now after a little trip up the Solokhumbu area of Nepal. Home of the famous Everest base camp trek and the alternative trek to Gokyo Peak that we chose.
Stunning weather with some snow to add to the fun and scenery. Happily off the Dhaal Bhat and onto Chips and Beer now before we head out to Borderlands Resort for a couple of days.
The view from Gokyo Peak (5260m) Everest on the left and Cholatse on the right.

Jen getting beaten by spindrift on our approach to Gokyo
The beautiful Cholatse

Back to India next for a spot of motorcycling, cricket, curry and trains.

Friday, 30 October 2009

the 'Abode of Snows' here we come!


Forgot to get our Visa's sorted for India (had other things on our mind). So spent this week arranging our trip and going to Birmingham to get a Visa. Expensive game!

Anyway, I guess it is a good thing because now we know what we are doing and have some kind of agenda.

It is going to be a knackering trip!

> Manchester to Delhi, chill out here for a bit.
> Overland Delhi to Kathmandu, an adventure in itself!
> Flying to Lukla airstrip
> Going trekking around the Khumbu region. No specific goals here.
> Walking back to Jiri and the bus to Kathmandu
> Explore Kathmandu
> Fly to Bengalore (South India) and Explore
> Train (Sleeper) to Goa and Chill by the Beach
> Train (Sleeper) to Mumbai
> Watch the India vs Sri Lanka Test Cricket
> Train (Sleeper) to Delhi and Agra to the Taj Mahal
> Relax back in Delhi at the end of our manic trip!

Back in time to get an MOT on the van then drive it out to Chamonix!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

MIA Assessment week

Well, a tough week but a great outcome. Passed!

Just a quick message to say thanks to everyone who has lent a hand over the last month during my personal training for this.

So pleased its all over....until the next one!

Having a week off now then flying out to India with Jen :)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Teaching Climbing & Rain

Just a little update, have been doing a load of climbing and scrambling days in and around North Wales this month. Bit of teaching trad climbing. All is well, my MIA assessment starts today which should be fun..... :S. Feel 25% prepared!

(Above: Zora leading the top pitch of BooBoo Slab, Tremadog)

Monday, 12 October 2009


Not been up to much, but just a quick rundown on mountain type stuff that has been going on here!

4th: Idwal Slabs with 2 students, Volunteering for the BMC Student Seminal at PYB
5th: Scrambling Short Rope day with Max and Mark, up Nor Nor Buttress variant descend west face
6th: Rainy day! Rescue Training at Indy indoor wall, and weak bouldering session on my behalf!
7th: Bochlywd and Milestone with 2 David & Steve
8th: Gold Navigation Training Course (work)
9th: Moelwyns solo
10th: Scrambling Day with Tom, Little Gully>North Gully onto North Buttress Variant. Descend South ridge Tryfan, to Glyder Fach main cliff up Chasm, descended Gribin Ridge to Cneifon Arete, descend to Ogwen.
11th: Tremadog, rained and recce'd routes. No climbing! Drove to Sheffield!

Got a week of Supply Teaching at KES!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Chamonix to North Wales

Ok, so the end of the summer and some fantastic routes this summer.

Now its time for me to head to North Wales to get some climbing, scrambling and mountain fun in prior to an MIA assessment at the end of the month.

So far have had a good session down at the works, out on Eyam moor on a navigation course, multi pitch climbing on Idwal and a day out on Tryfac East Face today.

Not the alps, but great fun and feeling fit.

India & Nepal at the end of the month, really exciting!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Aiguille Noire de Peuterey

Aiguille Noire de Peuterey (South Ridge) 1200m, TD.

Write up coming soon... here are some pictures for now!

Cooking up at the amazing Noire (Borelli) Hut

The skyline ridge starting from Point Gambi (big spire on left) to the summit.

2/3rds up the ridge... first time the camera came out.

Making myself comfy on the 1 man bivvy ledge. Byron left me after an hour or so of crouching. Stayed clipped on all night.

Brewing up at 3600m

Arriving at the Bivvy just as the sun went down

The last abseil before the summit......

...before the ropes got stuck, so had to prussik back up the full 50m

Byron with his ladyfriend

Summit view is always amazing.

The descent is long, tedious and hard to follow. Worth getting some good beta on about the descent. We wasted quite a lot of time route-finding on the East ridge.

More write up and beta soon.

Cordier Pillar (take II)

David Hasselhoff called; he wants his shorts back.

Byrons Guest Blog:

Holiday synopsis so far:

- Fly to Geneva
- Drive to Cham (5 pitches climbed)
- Drive to Saalbitschijen (1 pitch climbed)
- Drive to Val di Mello: too tight to pay for guidebook + Guy's rope broken = 2 pitches climbed.
- Drive to Bregaglia (0 pitches climbed)
- Back to Cham where we had a little fun from the Midi.

Not quite the super alpine holiday we had planned!

So...Guy suggests the Cordier Pillar on the Grand Chamoz. "Great!" I say.
"You need a number 5 cam to avoid a 10 metre run out on the final hard pitch" Guy says.
"But they're like, £60 aren't they?"
"£80. We'll just have to man up."

A quick walk from the middle station across some moraines to the bivvy site see's us eyeing up our obvjective and making our beds for the night. A few rocks roll down the glacier but they don't matter as it will all freeze overnight holding them in place.

9:00: The usual pasta dinner to the sounds of some more rockfall doesn't deter our spirits before an early bed and hard day's climbing the next day.
9:20: More rockfall.
9:30: More rockfall
9:35: More rockfall
9:37: Lots more rockfall; getting much more frequent now.
9:38: Pan fall (stove falls off the wall)
9:39: BOOM! Sit bolt upright to witness a shower of sparks sliding down the glacier. "Errr, we have to go across that in the morning" says Guy. "I don't like playing Russian Roulette with a mountain" says I.

The look of delight on Guy's face at another failed route.

9:40: Back down to Cham to a comfortable bed and Guy's drunken housemates.

Plan aborted. Not to worry, next morning Guy hands me a book with our next possible objective - 1200metres of TD climbing. Yeah right, I say...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

L'ete Indien - Mont Oreb

Saturday 19th September

Headed to Le Buet and up the Berard valley today for a late start (with bad weather due) on L'ete Indien. Turns out to be a superb homogenous route at about 6A. Another fantastic outing, looked like it was going to rain all day but managed to hold off.

Byron on the second pitch
Splattered on the superb green slab


Friday, 18 September 2009

Contamine Grisolle (Left Edge) Triangle du Tacul

18th September: Contamine Grisolle (Left Edge) Triangle du Tacul

AD III 350m

An easy line but one I have fancied the look of for a while. After a good kip in the hut, we set out at 7.30am with Byron Buck (Short for Buckminster, long for B) from the hut. Lovely route, good condition right now with a thin covering of consolidated snow to make travel straight forward. Great mixed step (around guidebook pitch 4) to keep things entertaining.

Descended down the NW Slope and onto the normal Mt Blanc du Tacul route, good snow cover on this slope Making the winter season REALLY exciting and seem quite close!

All in all, fantastic route - short enough to knock it off in a morning and tricky enough (if you just follow your nose not the guidebook) to make it more adventurous!

On the starting snow/ice slopes

Getting onto the ramping slope before the mixed step

Came down this afternoon as the weather looks ok to go get on some rock.

September Badile Cassin Project: Still keeping eyes open on the Vicosoprano Meteosuisse forecast for another drive over to the Bregaglia. Looks like tue/wed will be dry and maybe warm enough to start melting snow off the route.... optimistic.

Byron has a treat for you today with a little video:

Cosmiques Arete (Again)

17th September: Took big bags up to the Abri Perroux nr the Col du Midi. For a couple of days of scouting around and having a look.

Lift didnt start up until about 9.30 so we dropped gear off, had a brew and made for the Cosmiques Arete to help Byron get some acclimatising - besides, its always a great route.

Completed that in a couple of hours, realised we forgotten coffee money, so retreated back to the hut for another brew!

Fresh snowfall (maybe 10-15cm in places), but otherwise people were out getting some routes done (Chere Couloir, Mt Blanc du Tacul, Traverse of Lachenal etc etc) not much else.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Valley Cragging (rain dodging)

16th September

More grim weather around (have tried every angle.... morocco, fontainbleau, verdon) all considered. We have decided to stick it out here.

Went to Le Fayet crag this morning then it cleared up a bit and went to Les dalles des aveyron for the afternoon. Nice slab bolt clipping, very chilled.

Decided to head up to the midi tomorrow for a look over the next 3 days just getting an idea whats happening high up.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Val di Mello & Val Bregaglia

Ok..... average news update for September Alpinism here in the alps.

The long awaited 'crowds go away and weather comes good' has not happened. Crowds have gone, rain has come. We went to the Val di Mello for some sport climbing. So we set out without a guidebook and did some roadside cragging. Until pitch 2 when we realised there was serious damage to one of the ropes (ewounder! ... from previous escapade) so had to bail!

Chilled out in the local Cafe which was a cool place called Bar Monica (got hold of the local guidebooks etc) but then it rained...........

So we drove to the Bregagli. our objective was the Cassin Route on the Badile. So the weather looks crap for the rest of the week, we decided to camp out for the week and wait. Next day there was snow to about 2500m. Bugger, road trip continues.

Back in Bondo...ok so snow has come down to 2500m. We need some 25 degreesish weather to clear that before we spin the van back around to come have another go.

Today we headed for Chamonix, at least here we can meet friends, drink beer and get out for gaps in the weather here and there!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Salbitschijen - The greatest granite ridge?

Sat in the car park in Andermatt now after our mission on the West Grat. That route is massive!

Weather.....average - Needless to say we didnt get very far on it (taking too long to do all 33 pitches!). I think this is better re-visited in July in a long day hit. At least now we have the guidebook and some knowledge.

Salbitschjen West Grat - 1000m - ED1 - 6A Obl

Said to be the finest granite ridge?! Shame we cant confirm this just yet!

Looks like rain for the rest of the month, so we are going to stay low and wait for things to brighten up. For some Pizza and Vino we are heading to the Val di Mello (I) now before heading backa round to the Bregaglia for more Badile action.


Les Jumeaux du Brévent - Catyoucha Man

Stunning, inspiring, climbing photography .....

12th September

Byron is here... went for a warm up on Catyoucha today before heading to the Bernese Oberland (Salbitschijen) for something new!

Nice route. Abseil approach was a shame but meant the rotue was quiet. Actually climbd the first pitch of a route to the right 6A before finding it was the wrong route so abseiled to the start of Catyoucha.

Finished before the final corner as we had to hit the road!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Tour du Mont Blanc

Mum came out and it was time for a break from L'Alpinism! So Jen joined us and we walked from Chamonix to Courmayeur over 4 days. And why not too! There are some awesome views of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey on the descent to Val Veni...Really want to get on that.

Trading the mother in for Byron today so we will see what that brings! A road trip I feel with a Rock Jock trip to the Bregaglia - Very Exciting!

Check out this cow we found on the way!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Petit Dru North Face Attempt : Death Bivouac

In response to the email from Mum : "Have you been up a mountain playing silly buggers while I have been waiting for a reply to any of my e-mails? " The answer is yes and here is the story!

27th August 2009

This morning we had a little adventure on the Dru North Face, John Roberts - the guest blogger gives us a summary. To see a bit of route beta and rockfall news see the previous post.

Over to John......

Problem 1 - Lightning Storm Number 1
"This is the best way - you bend down on your knees and stick your ass in the air. The lightning goes in your ass."

Problem 2 - Water
"This water's full of aliens."
"No it's not, it's granite"

Problem 3 - Gas
"We've run out of gas."

Problem 4 - Rain Storm Number 1
"Of f£$k, shit, the chocolate's gone down a hole."
"Oh well, you're going hungry."
"No you are, it's the team chocolate."
"Better go and get it then."

Problem 5 - Rockfall (see photo from below post)
"The bonatti pillar's falling down."
"What do we do."
"It's easier if you run when you're out your sleeping bag."
"Oh, yeah."
"Where now?"
"Hide behind that rock."
"Do you think we're gonna die?"
"Go get the camera then."
"Now I feel like an American."
"My sleeping bag's over there... Damn, I got pretty far hopping"

Problem 6 - 3 hour rain storm 2
"My bivi bags better than yours."
"No it's not, mine only weighs 500grams."
"So what, mine's waterproof. Oh shit"
"The f&$^£&g puddle that collected in the hood just poured in."
"See told you mine's better."

"What's your psyche level out of 100?"
"Bout 62."

Problem 7 - Rockfall number 2
"We've gone the wrong way"
"This is the way down here."
"Good job we went the wrong way. Would've died then."
"What's your psyche level?"

"Let's go home."


Until next time..........