Sunday, 23 May 2010

Dome de Chapeau

Me on the slabs before taking a bit of downtime! 6B thin slab, not sure about the name.

23rd May

Ok, so today was the last day. Went cragging at Le Chapeau today. Awesome slabs in a great setting.

Some 'interesting' routes too!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

End of season - What happened?

22nd May

So I think it is safe to say that is time to move on, we had a great 18 months or so in Chamonix and got loads done. We aren't going to stick around this summer - moving back to the UK to get a bit of work and get strong on the climbing front with my mate Byron ready for Yosemite in September.

I guess it is time to think back a bit to what we have achieved this winter... It was very different than last year in a way that I worked more, the snow was not quite so epic and the climbing was not easy. Still, with the experience of my first year it meant that when we did get chance to go in the mountains we made it worthwhile. We learned a lot about conditions and how each month changes your objectives.

The highlights!

December :

Arrived in mid December, to find a decent amount of snow. It was time to get the ski legs back so spent some good days cruising around resort and especially on some tasty laps on the Plan d'Aiguille

Carl eating snow, good times at the Grand Montets.
January :

Needed to nip up to Scotland to run a couple of winter skills courses. What a season they had up there! I hear people are still ski touring high in the Cairngorms - good effort! Upon my return I was ready to get stuck into my season. Had some great runs down the Envers du Plan and the Toule glacier. Climbing conditions never seemed to be up to scratch in the mountains, and we always prefer alpine climbing rather than valley ice. So we took up steep skiing. Our first outing was the 'Dru Couloir' by accident. We were still keen to set off where we left last year and despite the temperatures high up, went ski touring. It was nice but really hard work, best to be left for late Feb > March. Our enthusiasm here took us to Mont Velan a beautiful peak I skiid past last year and the Breche Pusieux.

Plum on the Mont Velan tour
February :

I had wanted to do the Cosmiques Couloir all last season but never felt up to it, hadn't been skiing that long afterall. Anyway, february started with Plum and I skiing it in great snow. It was fantastic and really addictive. I think we found ourselves a new hobby for the winter. We were still on the look out for some winter routes to do, things were in condition but we were holding out for improvements come March. We had a load of great skiing in March, especially the Combe du Pouce with Glenn and Plum. Decided to get stuck into a bit of valley ice and climbed the direct version of the EMHM icefall from which I got a return of the chilly fingers. Good times.


Skiing the Combe du Pouce
March :

The snow was fantastic, great days out in Courmayeur skiing the steep trees and untracked powder. Loads of mates out this month, good to spend some time with you all! Had another steep ski on the Capucin Couloir with Andy, quality day out. Our eagerness for alpinism was still strong. We had a piss poor attempt on the Bettembourg Thivierge but a cold night and schoolboy errors got in the way. We decided to lower the grade a bit and stand on a mountain, it had been so long - we traversed the Aiguille du Chardonnet. A beautiful peak. Rick came out on his splitboard, more touring to come!

Heading for the Bettembourg Thivierge
April :

A busy month. Loads of wee trips as work had quietened down. Loads of powder still to be had on routes like the Col du Passon. unfortunately for Rick, he nipped away on a stunning week where Plum and I had the Cunningham Couloir and the Barbey Couloir (from the Aiguille d' Argentiere). More skiing with the Col de la Buche and the Col de Belvedere where Plum took a wee ride down an icy slope. The 3 cols again and some Vallee Blanche rock cragging was great fun and made for mixed adventure days out! A couple of highlights towards the end of the month was the Lafaille Goulette and we ski'd to the top of Mont Blanc! One of last years goals.

I think this month was the best! With the highlight, skiing the Barbey face from the Aiguille d'Argentiere.

Lafaille Goulette

Entering the Barbey Couloir

The 'Bosses' ridge.
May :

Back to the UK again for another taste of home. Had a weekend on Stanage before returning back to Cham. Rain had set in for the spring, but once it had cleared we had a few jollies includign the Aiguilette d'Argentiere and general cragging. Had a fantastic trip down the valley to the Pierre A Voix which hosts some fantastic sport. Recently, with some good weather Plum and I enjoyed the Burnier Vogler Couloir on the NW face of the Aiguille d'Midi. Just yesterday we attempted once again to do something a bit daft and walk into the Argentiere refuge for some more Alpinism. Unfortunately leaving ski's at home was not the best idea as there is stil la heap of warm soft snow up there!

Burnier Voger Goulette

So thanks everyone who I have been in touch with this winter for great tips & trips, route knowledge, days out and beers. Thanks to Plum for holding ropes, been a great Alpinist and top quality mountain Comrade, roll on Alaska. Thanks to Pelforth and the Vallee Blanche Bar for good apres, headaches and aborted routes. Thanks to Jennifer for good Shepherds Pie and calming my frustration when it was raining for 16 days. Thanks to all mates' in Chamonix for all good times!

It's time to move on somewhere else for more adventure. I will be back very soon as the tick list has only got longer.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Burnier Vogler Goulette

17th May: Went for a ski on the Vallee Blanche to have a look at snow conditions.

18th May: Burnier Vogler Goulette : Aiguille du Midi NW Face.

At last, back into the swing of things. Somehow, the lethargy of sitting around in the valley seems to take over and ruin the 'psyche' a little. So today we chose to do a little route off the midi which we could do in a day.

Plum traversing to the start. Looking at the photo, I can't believed we skiid the couloir a couple of months ago!

A very dry/thin first ice pitch!

Once again, we abseiled off the bridge of the Midi and descended about 300m in total to the start of the Burnier Vogler Goulette. Infact, we traversed into the route from about halfway up the first pitch.

Having no knowledge of the condition, we started up the route - very little ice in the first pitch making for some interesting mixed moves. The second pitch started up nice with a good small section of 80 degree ice then ice/snow.

We moved together for what would be a couple of rope lengths to the final pitch, here we found loose snow covered rock. Not ideal, but bearable. Finished up the Cosmiques Arete. Great day out!

Plum coming up the first pitch

We moved together through the middle pitches, good snow - not to deep!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pierre a Voix

16th May

No post for a while! Have been getting down to a bit of work this month. According to Plum's 'wet/grey' calendar, it has rained every day for 16 days. I have seen the high mountains once or twice in this time. There is certainly a lot of snow dumping down high up. Have heard a few mates getting out on ski's and enjoying the poor vis powder!

Anyway, today we took a ride down the valley, found some dry rock and sun at the Pierre a Voix, just above Sallanches (20 mins from Chamonix).

An amazing little crag, a standalone monolith of rock in the trees. Grades are from 4's through to 7's with the North face being about 15m and the steep south face about 35m+.

Going for the clip

We did about 5 routes each ranging from about 5b-6a+ first real day out climbing so good to get the levers working again.

Weather has come good for now, but still a lot of snow high, so we are going to go play in the mountains these next few days.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A long walk in... Plum goes 'rock', I go 'scissors'

8th May : Vallorcine Slabs and Aiguilette d'Argentiere

Weather still really mixed in the Chamonix valley. There has been a load of snow during the week and still a load of unstable snow. Shame really as the last day of the Grand Montets lift is tomorrow and we were hoping to get up and do a few routes in the Argentiere Valley.

Didnt fancy going high today so we went and pottered around the Chamonix crags. Tom joined Plum and I today with our original plan to head to Barberine, but rain in the night meant it was sopping. So we opted for the Vallorcine slabs, which were also wet but provided a bit of fun in the intermittent rain.

After doing a few pitches we decided to move on to the classic Aiguilette d;Argentiere, a fun little pinnacle about an hour from the Col du Montets. Unfortunately for us, we didnt really pay much attention to the route and ended up heading from the Col du Montets instead of the lower car park and scrambling over most types of awful terrain to get to it.

This results in a grumpy Guy and cravings for bacon sandwiches at the Petite Kitchen. As I lost 'rock,paper,scissors' Plum didn't let us go (I later discovered Plum always goes with stone)

Easy climbing on impressive rock

Sunday, 2 May 2010


1st-2d May : Stanage

Back in the UK for the weekend working ( on a climbing weekend for the Royal Veterinary College Mountaineering Club.

Loads of stars ticked each day and the rain held off! We looked in detail at building quality belays and using sound, safe, systems (not getto blaster types). Some of the group also did some lead climbing - great stuff!

Christina on Black Hawk Hell crack.

Claire on Rugosity Crack

Andy at the top of Rugosity Crack.