Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tour Ronde - North Face

Last year, Jen and I on the Vallee Blanche with the Tour Ronde in the background.. Looks awesome from here

20th- Went for a Ski at Les Houches, only down the road from us but previousy not on the ski pass. Anyway! It opened out and now we can use it, so had a nice day looking at the different views down the valley. Ready for some snow now!
22nd-Work and tried to go skiing! But failed due to tourists. Still need snow!

23rd- North Face of the Tour Ronde with a descent of the normal route. Really chuffed with today, Plum and I, Chamonix to Chamonix in 7.5 hours including the North Face of the Tour Ronde and a ski back home!

The line takes the route up the centre of the face

The descent

Looking over to the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and the ridge up to Mt Blanc

Cool Alpine Scrambling to the summit

Really recommend this route! A Chamonix classic. To be able to climb this from the first lift (8am) and be back home for 3pm is amazing! Wanted to do it since skiing the VB for the first time last year.... awesome day!

Thanks Plum for the photos!

Fingers update: made extra insulation for the damaged fingers so winter alpinism is back on!

24th- POWDER DAY! It has been 2 weeks so much needed snow came today. About 40cm fresh and we made the most of it up the Grand Montets this morning..

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Cold Fingers and a new pair of Expedition Mitts

15th- Worked in the morning and planned on going out climbing. But nothing went to plan. So sat in the Petite Kitchen and planned to go on Tuesday!

16th- Verbier avec Jennivive. Took a road trip through to Switzerland in New Blue, really nice sunny hot day to adventure to a different skiing area. We were on a bit of a holiday so spent the morning racing around the pistes, followed by an off piste adventure and a rather long stop in the 'Carlsberg Chalet' where we got stuck into a bit of local Rosti and Salad. Nice day! Good Sun, good off-piste possibilites for the next powder day!

17th- First lift on the Midi to go climb Gabarrou Albinoni Gully - armed with a new pair of Millet expedition mitts, a nice looking route on the East Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. Great fun and even though we were third on route, there wasn't too much ice coming down but parties were moving quite slowly through the steeper sections. In the end we started to abseil before the crux as my fingers havent really recovered since the last episode (see Gran Paradiso North Face) and we were a bit wary of continuing through only to be slowed down by abseil traffic. Still... great climbing in an impressive valley.

Gabarrou Albinoni Gully- The very thin looking gully running up the centre of the photograph. 11 pitches of good snow & ice conditions made climbing quite quick. About 500m TD (Alpine Grade)

We were the third group on the climb due to schoolboy error on the lift system
(first midi lift holds more than the second one!)

From the bottom of the route we skinned back up onto the Vallee Blanche and hiked round to the 'Abri G Perroux' hut aka 'Shit Shack' perched on the rocky spur down the way from the Cosmiques Hut for a cold rest, supper and sleep. We still wanted to go do the North Face of the Tour Ronde the following day - so decided to sleep on it and set the alarms for 5.30am.

18th- 'I like all the girls, I like all the girls' repeated on Plum's alarm as a sign it was time to wake up. I went back to sleep. We unwrapped our down caterpillars and made a brew.... after sleeping on it and acting sensibly yesterday we decided we probably should leave the North Face for a coupl more weeks as I was still feeling the cold in my finger tips after just sorting a few bits of gear out. So we watched the sun rise behind the Grand Jorasses and decided to take a steady start to the day and change objectives. The plan was now to ski around the Valley, take some pics and eye up some potential routes and access for the routes in the area. It was nice to skin up into the top of the valley by the face of the Tour Ronde and have a look somewhere new.

Sun was beating down, another lovely day. The high pressure was looking after us. About 9.30am we decided it was time to maximise the sun on te balcony and ski'd full pelt down the Vallee Blanche and this time decided to go on the Montenvers Train back down to Chamonix, the home run isnt quite so good at the minute!

Feels like I wont be up to much more Winter Alpinism this year.... should wait for the fingers to heal completely. There is always next year to finish off/carry on the tick list! Should be back for the Tour Ronde this year, looks fairly straight forward and fast from the first lift of the Midi.

19th- Work. Croissants are in the oven :)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Night Mission - Vallee Blanche under a Full Moon

13th- Feeling a bit better now! Very psyched up to get some good stuff done this week to make up for last week in bed.

So I realised.... Shit! It was Full Moon last night, missed it. Since last year I had wanted to ski the Vallee Blanche under a full moon after reading Jon Griffiths' article :


Anyway, it was a Friday - it had been a nice day but only got a bit of Skiing done at Brevent in the morning. So I made some calls and soon enough there was 6 of us waiting at the bottom of the midi in the afternoon ready for the last bin. A motly crew of Chris and mates. Our plan was to ski to the Cosmiques Refuge for a rather luxury dinner to while away the evening until the moon was bright enough to guide us down.

Cutting the story short, we had a fantastic dinner, wine and beers and chatted bollocks for a fair while. Sunset over Chamonix was beautiful as ever. We departed at 11pm when we could see fairly well. Skiing over the VB without any headtorch, guided by the moon was really amazing.

Note the view from the window!

Such a good thing to do and it was a good crack with a good bunch. Photos should be on their way, hopefully we have some good ones.

Headtorches had to come out for a few sections where the moon had dissappeared behind some of the mountains.

Thanks to Charlie for letting me put these cool photos he took onto the blog

All in all....good crack. Got down at 2am to Chamonix after the Ski down the James Bond track to a rather bare looking Planards a the lift is now in Krgyzstan.

Had to get up for work at 6am..... Bummer

14th- Went to work. loved every minute ;)

Anticyclone now relaxing above us. Stable conditions for time to come! Keep a lookout for more posts.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Watching the powder....from inside

380cm of Powder on top of the Grand Montets at the minute. Lots of fun to be had. A humongous great anticyclone has arrived. Unfortunately I have had the 'gastro-flu' meaning 3 days of bed followed by a day of work! Bugger.

Photo above is from Chris & Mel's day out in the Powder. Top sprawled out powder skier is Phil, bottom sprawled out powder skier is Mel! Nice work guys.

Ready for some serious action now. Its been tooooo long!

P.S Booked flight to India!

9th- Bed :(
10th- Bed :(
11th- Bed :( did manage to start reading Andy Cave's new book though!
12th- Work...

Wow... what a week!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Allé hop!

5th- Work
6th- Gave mum a lift to the airport.. weather was pretty dump so decided to save the toes for next week. Did lots of research today. sorting out touring opportunities. So far on the list: Classic Haute route, Bernese Oberland Tour, Haute Maurinee Tour, Ski Mt Blanc, etc...
7th- Work work work....
8th-Work in the morning then back to it!
Blue Sky and back to the Mountain!

First day back skiing today (had chance for a few runs in-between jobs at work - good day!) after about 10 days off due to bad toes from last big trip. Feeling a bit better and have had boots blown out a little bit.

We decided to go for a bit of adventure and ski'd down to the Argentiere glacier on the morning then went up to the half way Midi lift and ski down to Chamonix, good adventure, different skiing!...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

R & R

Si Sent this Toula pic for the gallery. Rest & Recovery at the minute. Fingers nearly defrosted.

A couple of links to post up:

A wee article for the 'Grand Day Out' competition: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1682

Our post on the state of the Gran Paradiso: http://www.ohm-chamonix.com/fiche.php?id=01&course=3788&ling=Fr

26th - Work
27th -Rested
28th- Work

March already!

1st- Work
2nd - Mum is out on Holiday!
3rd - Courmayeur tourism
4th - Snowshoeing in the Berard valley

Still taking it easy. Looking forward to next Monday. Hopefully my toes will be comfy in the boots by then!