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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Today's Ice

~ Sunday 28th December 2008

Fantastic 4 pitch route, 45 mins walk, bolted descent, no-one else around. Excellent day!

Cascade de Bonatchiesse, III 5(?)

Superb wall, Pitch 3

Ice Conditions

~ Saturday 27th December 2008

Back to cold weather this weekend. The warm spell stripped lots of the lower icefalls but conditions are excellent a bit higher up.

This is today, somewhere in Switzerland...

no shortage of ice here!

Ice climbing

~ Sunday 21st December 2008

There's a lot of snow here but still some good ice climbing. There aren't many folk out climbing - in the last 4 days we've seen 2 other pairs of climbers. This means extra effort making tracks, but we've had routes to ourselves.

The snow and warm temperatures means plenty of running water, and with the return of cold weather tomorrow conditions should soon be excellent. 

Charlie's first outdoor (!) ice at la Gouille

A snowy finish to l'Usine Électrique

Trying leashless tools

Amazing Ski conditions

~ Thursday 18th December 2008

A fantastic day at Arolla, with blue skies, boot deep powder and no-one else around. The lifts open here this weekend and the ski season is off to a great start with snow depth in the Swiss alps around double the average for this time of year - http://www.slf.ch/lawineninfo/schneeinfo/hsm/index_EN

Aspirant guide Hannah Burrows-Smith knee deep

Powder all the way to the valley

Powder skiing

~ Sunday 7th December 2008

Blue skies, knee deep and 4 other skiers - fantastic early season skiing in Evolene today. Still no lifts - they open here the weekend before Christmas - but the skiing is so good it's well worth the uphill. It's 1200m vertical drop from the top - powder all the way to the car.

Deep fresh tracks

Skinning...

 

Ice climbing in Arolla

~ Wednesday 3rd December 2008

First ice routes of the year today in Arolla. Very good conditions on L'Usine Électrique and Cascade de la Fenetre at Arolla. There were climbers at La Gouille too, and all the other routes are building up fast, so things look good for the climbing season and there's more cold - but not too cold - weather forecast!

Pitch 1, l'Usine Électrique, Arolla

Pitch 2, l'Usine Électrique, Arolla

Cascade de la Fenetre

Off piste in Evolene

~ Thursday 27th November 2008

Blue sky, powder and no-one in sight, a great morning at Evolene. No lifts yet, so it's a long tour up but worth it for the skiing. Lots of piste preparation and snow making going on up there, although the lifts here arent due to open for a month. There's more snow forecast for the weekend...

Perfect snow from the mid-station to the car

Snow cannons, Point de Vouasson in the distance

Ski conditions

~ Sunday 23rd November 2008

 The snow has been great - especially remembering it's still november. 

The Tseina Reifien north face was fantastic last week - boot deep powder! This is the face up and left when approaching the Pas de Chevre. You can skin up the lower thirds, but then it's skis off and booting up to reach the ridge - which took some time in deep snow. 

North face, Pointes de Tsena Refien

                  

Today saw a return to blue skies after yesterday's storm - 24 hours of snow and wind. Touring above Arolla today there is a lot of new snow, but there's been a lot of wind too - lots of windslab, and some challenging skiing! Back in the trees near the village the snow's still good though.

skiing into Arolla

Skiing into Arolla                              

Altogether a good start to the ski season - plenty of snow in late November, and more on the way tonight

Telemark

~ Friday 14th November 2008

Early season skiing - no lifts yet so plenty of uphill, but boot-deep powder, blue skies and no-one around. There is already quite good cover - skiable all the way from Col Collon to Arolla 2 days ago - and the main piste area at Arolla is great fun - skin for an hour and a half, then fresh tracks next to yesterday's track...

Following yesterday's skinning track

                               

I've been telemarking for the first time in 8 years. Well, it's still harder work uphill compared to Alpine Dynafit touring. Kick turns are still harder too. Downhill is harder...technically and physically. But it's great! Perfect snow and tele turns feel good - I wanted to go straight back up, but legs had other ideas.

A very white Pigne D'Arolla

Re-using yesterday's skinning track

Summer is over...

~ Friday 7th November 2008

 A week of cold snowy weather and it's definitely winter now, with snow forecast down to 1200m next week. A good time for a look back at the guiding season, or the "Summery Summary"

-Mont Blanc: 5 attempts, 2 summits, 1 via Gouter, 1 via 3 Monts route. The failures all due to the awful june weather.

-Left Edge route on Tacul in great condition

-Traverse of Pointe Lachenal

-Cosmiques Arete, 3 times(?)

-Kufner (Frontier) Ridge. Great conditions to the summit

-Dent du Géant Normal route, mixed weather so only 2 teams on the mountain

-Grandes Jorasses Normal Route

-Gran Paradiso North Face, only team on route. Good ice conditions in summer!

-Mont Blanc de Cheilon normal route, 4 times!

-La Luette twice

-Pigne d'Arolla traverse twice from Dix, twice from Vignettes

-Dent Blanche South Ridge twice, once from the winter room, only team on the hill

-Pointe Marcel Kurz north face - a great little ice route from the Bouquetins bivvy

-Breithorn, Castor, Pollux and attempt Monta Rosa, a great few days in Zermatt.

-Weishorn Traverse

-Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route. Very mixed weather meant deserted hills.

So, a great season, plenty of good routes, no long periods of bad weather...and still some energy left for climbing "just for fun"

 

 

 

 

Rock Climbing

~ Monday 27th October 2008

3 days of sunny rock climbing, 3 crags, 28 pitches. Toes just recovered from the Matterhorn are now thoroughly battered!

First  "Follomi" at Sanetsch, 8 pitches up to 6b+ on perfect limestone.

Then "l'Ecureil" at Evolene - the first 3 pitches have recently been rebolted, but the superb finish is still strangely on old bolts. Quality climbing on great rock, 30 seconds from the car.

The excellent top pitch, 6b ish

                              

We drove over to Grimsel in the evening and slept in a lay by. The next morning we found the Grimsel car park full of mattresses - the Hospice is closed for refurbishmnent and the beds are stored in the car park! The autumn is the ideal time to climb at El Dorado - in the sun the temperature is perfect. We did Metal Hurlant, 15 pitches and 15 holds! Sustained slab and corner climbing.

Perfect granite corners

Finishing the 6b corner

In a sea of granite, pitch 10

Matterhorn North Face

~ Monday 20th October 2008

After a report of good conditions on the Schmidt route I headed over to Zermatt with Stu McAleese and Rich Cross. Time was a bit tight - Stu and Rich had flights to catch...The next morning with perfect weather and good nevé we made fast progress to the end of the ramp - then found several pitches of delicate mixed climbing which slowed things down a bit...this section can bank out, but in dry conditions there are several pitches of bold Scottish VI on typical Matterhorn rock.The chimney leading to the ramp

                         

Above this the climbing is easier but there is still a lot of it. We reached summit in time for a spectacular sunset, but hopes of catching flights were fading with the light. 

We had each done the Hornli ridge several times, but even knowing the way the descent by headtorch in snowy conditions took ages. We spent a chilly night in the Solvay hut, then headed down in the morning - a memorable way to spend my 38th birthday!Reaching the Zmutt ridge

                        

Thanks to Stu McAleese and Rich Cross - well worth missing your flights!

Dent Blanche

~ Tuesday 30th September 2008

The South Ridge is a good choice in snowy conditions - it clears quickly, but parts of it are better with snow anyway. Walking up we met a couple who'd spent night at the hut - they said 5 Italians had set off that morning to climb, so we were sure to find a good track.

In the hut at 4.00pm, 5 sets of Italian kit, but no Italians. Finally at 10pm they returned, a bit tired! Apparently, battling deep snow and "winter" conditions had led to a 17 hour epic...

We left at 5.00am. The route starts right from the hut with good scrambling on dry rock,  a short glacier, then more scrambling leads to a fine snow ridge. This was very corniced, with an impressive Italian track very near the edge.

Above, the couloir was in good condition on firm snow, followed by excellent climbing on dry rock...another fantastic end of season day when we were - again - the only team on the mountain.Sunset behind the Tsa and Tsalion

Trabersing into the couloir below the Grand Gendarme

High on the ridge

Avoiding the Italian track

 

Mont Blanc de Cheilon

~ Saturday 27th September 2008

More perfect weather here so we went over to the Dix hut to climb Mont Blanc de Cheilon. There's still a lot of fresh snow around, but ridges and south faces are in good condition. Its been very cold, so north facing slope are still deep soft snow - about 40cm at 3600m. It was the last night of the season at the hut, with about 25 walkers but only 2 of us climbing - again, we were the only people on the mountain.

On the summit, Mont Blanc de Cheilon

                              

Compare this to the summit 3 weeks ago here

The tricky step below the summit

Heading down through fresh snow

Glacier Research

~ Saturday 20th September 2008

I've been helping with some research on the Haut Glacier d'Arolla, investigating melting rates. We drilled some holes 50cm into the ice and set up measuring poles, then marked the ice surface level. I then set off to walk the Haute Route.

Returning yesterday to collect the poles after a week of cold snowy weather I expected to see very little change, but....

Measuring pole, black line shows original surface level

                             

The black line shows the surface level 10 days ago, with a change of 10cm. So 1cm/day in a period of cold snowy weather - there was 5 cm of fresh snow here the previous night.

Haute Route, Chamoniz Zermatt

~ Saturday 20th September 2008

Back from 7 days on the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route - a bit of an adventure with very mixed weather and very few people in the mountains.

Day 1 up to the Albert Premier hut was wet at first, but ended in a beautiful inversion. There were only 8 people in the hut!

Day 2 was wild, with heavy snow and poor visibility. We made it across to the Orny hut with some careful navigation. and saw no-one, not even a track.

Navigating the Trient plateau in fresh snow

                             

Day 3 we used http://www.taxi-des-combins.ch/ from Champex to Mauvoisin - a brilliant service, thanks Jean-Yves! The weather cleared as we walked to Chanrion, but it could easily have been summer in Scotland. There were just the 5 of us in the hut...

Day 4 started cold and windy with more snow, but soon cleared to give fantastic views. The "3 cols" to the Dix hut is an amazing route, more so for being deserted. Pam declared this her best day ever in the mountains!

Crossing the Giétro glacier under La Ruinette

                     

Day 5 was a semi-rest, walking to Arolla and the excellent Hotel du Glacier. http://www.hotelduglacier.ch/

Day 6 uphill all day to the Bertol hut, where we were the only guests...

Day 7 up the Tete Blanche - stunning views and a great finale to the week, we were (again) the only people on the mountain, with not a track to be seen. The fresh snow was calf deep, and with no track and increasing cloud we decided to return to Arolla instead of descending the Stockji glacier.

On the Tete Blanche, a great end to the week

                            

So, a week spent on possibly the most famous long distance walk in the Alps where on 3 days we saw...no-one. In 3 huts we were the only visitors! The Alps in July and August can be over-crowded, but now in mid September they are empty...

Quiet mountains...

~ Saturday 6th September 2008

The mountains are deserted now the holidays period is over. Tuesday/Wednesday over the Pas de Chevre to the Dix hut then up Mont Blanc de Cheilon when we saw no-one.

Cheilon summit

                           

Recent fresh snow and strong winds have made thin bridges over the late season crevasses - the traverse of the Pigne yesterday was very different to Monday, with the descent to the Dix hut now a smooth white slope. More crevasse "action" then the rest of the summer...

September in Arolla

~ Monday 1st September 2008

Good scrambling at the Pas de Chevre yesterday. This route is a great thing to do on the way to the Dix hut.

Above the Pas de Chevre, Mont Blanc de Cheilon behind             

Now we're into September the Alps are quiet, only 12 people in the hut last night! A spectacular thunderstorm cleared to leave a starry morning, but quickly clouded over and soon we could easily have been in the Cairngorms....

Heavy snow on the way up the Pigne d'Arolla

                           

Luckily the cloud cleared and we got good views from the top...then more cloud.

 

Kufner Route

~ Friday 22nd August 2008

a great day yesterday on the Kufner Route (Frontier Ridge) on Mont Maudit. We left the Torino hut at 2.30am and were first on the route in bright moonlight - no torch needed! The route is in very good condition with firm snow allowing fast progress. One of the best ridges in the Alps! More photos on aspirant guide Rob Jarvis' excellent blog

Sunrise behind the Grand Combin

Precarious corniced ridge climbing!

At 4300m with the whole route visible below

North Faces

~ Tuesday 19th August 2008

The weather has been a bit unsettled, cold with some more snow. A strange August, but it has created some great conditions on icy faces. In Arolla the North Face of Point Marcel Kurz on Mont Brulé is in good condition, a great short ice route at low altitude.

Next, we did the Left Edge route on the Tacul Triangle in perfect nevé.

Perfect nevé at dawn

Looking down the first snow slope

                                   

After a rest, we headed off to the Gran Paradiso. Good conditions again on the north face, and we were the only team on the route. The face is mostly ice so hard on the calves!Half way up!

In the sun at last, the final few feet of the face.

"Odd one out" competition on the summit ridge

 

Cold Mountains and warm rock

~ Wednesday 6th August 2008

2 contrasting days, starting with the SE flank route on the Grandes Jorasses. This is the normal route, but is a long complex AD climb. We had windy, cold cloudy conditions so no view but at least the snow stayed good for the descent. Climbing the Rochers Whymper

Descending the summit ridge in the cloud

                          

Today, total contrast climbing Au Bord Du Vide at Sanetsch. Perfect rock, 6 pitches in a great setting.

Pitch 4, 5c

Looking down pitch 4

Weather frustration!

~ Sunday 3rd August 2008

Thursday's attempt on the Zinal Rothorn "Rotgrat" failed in bad weather - snow and ominous clouds, and very warm on the glacier approach.the path to the Mountet hut 

                                    

On Friday, with bad weather forecast for the afternoon, we drove up the track to Bréona and climbed the Couronne de Bréona. This would be a 3 1/2 hour walk-in from La Forclaz, but the track is driveable - just! - to within an hour of the route. Park carefully and ask the farmer. You could also approach from Moiry dam. The ridge is loose to start, but soon becomes solid, with great knife-edge ridge scrambling and fantastic views. 

On the Couronne de Bréona ridge 

Good conditions in Arolla

~ Tuesday 29th July 2008

A busy few days around Arolla, with ascents of the Mont Blanc de Cheilon, Pigne d'Arolla, Pointe de Mourti and Dent Blanche. The weather has been mainly good, but with afternoon storms adding a bit of snow and ice.

Climbers on the summit ridge of Pointe de Mourti

          

Snowy verglassed rock on the Dent Blanche - climbing in crampons

                           

Sunny rock on the Dent de Follieches, Arolla

Mont Blanc

~ Friday 18th July 2008

Another Mont Blanc success! Tuesday was cold and windy, but starting from the Tete Rousse hut at 1.30am we made the top at about 10 o'clock.  Good snow conditions meant a fast descent and we were back at the Gouter 2 hours later for lunch, 2 hours down to Tete Rousse, then down for the train and a slow tired drive back to a huge meal in Evolene.  

A windy summit ridge

Aspirant guide Hannah Burrows-Smith arriving at the summit

 

Weissmeis traverse

~ Friday 11th July 2008

A good end to the week, great conditions on this fantastic traverse. Firm snow, dry rock, and not too cold!

High on the rocky SSE ridge

Arolla mountaineering

~ Wednesday 9th July 2008

3 great days out of Arolla. We spent a night at the newly refurbished Vignettes hut, then traversed the Pigne d'Arolla over both summits. The south top is on a fine snowy ridge, well worth the effort.

On the top in very cold wind

                   

         After a night at the Dix hut we climbed Mont Blanc de Cheilon which must be one of the best PD routes around. A great mix of snow and rock with a knife edge ridge to finish.

High on the summit ridge, the other Mont Blanc in the far distance

Dent du Géant

~ Thursday 3rd July 2008

The good weather continues!

This week started at the Torino hut with a traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves.

The descent from the summit

            

                          

A sleepless night thanks to some amazing Japanese snoring meant the next day was hard to start, but worth it to reach the Dent du Géant. Only 1 other pair on the route, and the clouds cleared as we summited.

High on the fixed rope above the Burgener slabs

The final ridge to the top

Mont Blanc and Zermatt 4000s

~ Sunday 29th June 2008

A great week with - at last - settled weather. We started in Zermatt, staying at the excellent Alpenhof hotel http://www.alpenhofhotel.com/ , and climbed the Breithorn, Castor and Pollux.

Reaching the top of Castor

Mark climbing the chains on Pullux

                                

Feeling fit and acclimatised, we moved over to Chamonix and climbed the Cosmiques route on Mont Blanc - a great end to the week. Conditions are good now on Mont Blanc, with the recent snow consolidated into good firm surface.

Mont Blanc summit

Aiguille du Midi

~ Friday 20th June 2008

There is still a huge amount of snow above 3000m. Pics here of the Grandes Jorasses and Tacul from the Aiguille du Midi.

Grandes Jorasses from Midi

Mont Blanc du Tacul from Midi

               

While this means the high mountains are in poor condition, we found great conditions on Pointe Lachenal,

Pointe Lachenal traverse

                                  

We then went over to the Cosmiques Arete, and arrived just as the Spanish Army took over!

Spanish army exercise on the Cosmiques Arete!

                      

This is the first abseil. After the second, there are plenty over options for overtaking. Here's British guide Jonny Baird following us up the chimney left of the normal aid pitch.

Cosmiques variation

Mont Blanc

~ Saturday 14th June 2008

Just back from a Mont Blanc week with very snowy conditions. Only five teams left the hut, and we were trail breaking through fresh snow right from the door. A couple of teams reached the top earlier this week, but we turned back at the Vallot hut in deep snow and cold winds - still a great day out, with so few people on the mountain.

Tete Rousse hut

 

Tim and Mark acclimatising on "Arete a Laurence", below the Cosmiques hut

 

              

In snowy conditions the ridge below the Cosmiques hut is a good climb, finishing on the hut terrace. Worth doing as a start to the Cosmiques arete.

Mont Blanc from Dome de Gouter, Vallot hut bottom left

 

"Scottish" weather...

~ Tuesday 3rd June 2008

The unsettled spell continues with strong winds and more snow above 3000m. The Foehn wind is carrying Saharan sand, so there's a strange layer of brown snow, and sandy rime on the Cosmique Arete yesterday.

Looking up the abseil on the Cosmiques Arete

This is climbable in most conditions, but felt more Aviemore than Alpine yesterday - rime, thick clouds and 80km/hour gusts - but no-one else on the route!

Spring walking

~ Saturday 31st May 2008

A good overnight trip to the Aiguille Rouge hut. There's no guardian at the moment, but the winter room is really good. The hills are deserted, snow above 2800m, and fantastic views of the higher mountains. The recent unsettled weather has left of fresh snow above 3200m, so still good ski-touring conditions.

The Aiguille Rouge hut with a very snowy Pigne d'Arolla in the background

Chamonix sun and snow

~ Tuesday 13th May 2008

Just back from a week in Chamonix, where end of season conditions were great. There's good snow cover so the skiing is good, but it's warm enough to climb rock in the sun. 

We traversed the Aiguille d'Entreves, which is a quality rocky PD ridge. Approaching on skis from the Aiguille du Midi, we skied out down the Vallée Blanche

On the Aiguille d'Entreves

Another day climbing perfect rock on the Midi south face. Ideal climbing temperature, and we had the crag to ourselves for the Rébuffat route, about British HVS. This route is easily approached in 5 mins on foot from the lift, and finshes with a short abseil back in to the lift station. Bolt belays, but you need a small rack too.

The Rébuffat route, South face of the Midi 

Haute Route

~ Saturday 19th April 2008

A week of mixed weather - some great skiing with some anxious times in thick cloud! The last day was spent in cloud as far as the Col de Valpeline, where we emerged to blue skies, views of the Matterhorn and powder fresh tracks to Zermatt. A great end to the trip.

David with Mont Blanc de Cheilon, heading for the Col des Ignes on our alternative Haute Route

 

Powder!

 

The classic Haute Route view - Matterhorn. 2000m descent to Zermatt next!

8th April - best week of the winter?

~ Tuesday 8th April 2008

Well it started badly with awful weather - the Oberland Traverse was abandoned in zero vis, high wind and 50cm of fresh snow. We moved across the valley to Chandolin and stayed in the Illhorn hut, and were rewarded with blue skies, perfect snow and deserted hills! This was the last weekend of the season in Val d'Anniviers - a shame to see the lifts closing with such good conditions.

Snowboarder Adam learning to love skis

 

Then off to the Moiry hut  from the Grimentz lifts - and the whole valley to ourselves. The next day over the Col de Bréona to Evolene, then 2 days skiing powder around Arolla - endless untracked snow - the only other skiers around at the moment  are lycra clad teams training for next weeks Patrouille des Glaciers. The Col des Ignes was untracked powder from 3200m to the road at Satarma, 1800m.

Al and Adam - first tracks down the Col des Ignes 

 Al below the Col des Ignes

 

30th March

~ Monday 31st March 2008

With the recent big snowfalls the end of season sliing is in great condition. Skiing and touring around Chamonix, St Bernard and the Aiguille du Midi has been fantastic this week. More snow forecast for today...

Off to do the Traverse of the West Oberland tomorrow.

21st March - Powder all week

~ Saturday 22nd March 2008

Just back from a fantastic week touring and off piste skiing in Grimentz. The best snow of the winter, fresh tracks all week. The lift area has great off piste, and with a little touring the area is huge.

With 40cm of fresh snow on friday the end of season is looking very good.

Nikki

Nikki again below Orxival

first tracks, 15 minutes skinning from a lift...

14th march - lots of new snow

~ Friday 14th March 2008

It's been a week of wild weather with lots of snow, cloud and wind. Some great skiing too, making the most of the sunny spells. Arolla has been deserted, so fresh powder tracks every day of the week. Last run on Wednesday was untracked from la Forcla to Arolla. The picture is yesterday below the col des Ignes, blue skies at last!Smooth telemarking in les Ignes todat

27th feb - Arolla ski touring

~ Wednesday 27th February 2008

A short tour today to the excitingly named Pt 2959. This is a short ski and a 20 minute climb from the top cafe of Arolla lift system, and gives 1100m vertical descent on north facing slopes to la Gouille. Still good powder today, although the last 5 minutes to the road had been in the sun and was deep slush!

20 minute skin to point 2959, with Mont Collon behind

Janine on the north facing descent

 

26th feb - Vignettes hut ski touring

~ Tuesday 26th February 2008

Ski tour up to the Col des Vignettes today. The work at the hut is still going on, with the opening date rapidly approaching...

Great snow on the descent, even a few powder turns. The rest has turned into perfect firm piste snow.

Building site at the Vignettes hut

23 feb - Italian ice

~ Saturday 23rd February 2008

Just back from a week in Cogne - perfect weather and good ice climbing conditions. IFMGA guide Terry Ralphs on the classic Patri Right Hand

Ron on the last pitch, Patri Left Hand

Jon finishing the steep pillar of Mistiria

14 feb - Via Ferrata

~ Thursday 14th February 2008

A change of scene today on the via ferrata at Nax. This was warm and sunny, and a welcome rest for tired frontpointing calves!

Dale on the Nax via ferrata

13 feb - ice climbing

~ Wednesday 13th February 2008

The fantastic weather continues, stable high pressure for the next week...

Climbing this week at la Gouille, Arolla (Usine Électrique) and the Tunnel routes. La Gouille left hand is thin now, but the others are all good.

Great conditions today on Cascade des Ignes. This is ice climbing in a brilliant mountain setting, and no-one else in sight - well worth the approach walk. Noticeably more ice than last time, but it was hard work on the calves. Snow shoes or skis help for the approach.

View of the route from the walk in

Dale seconding the third pitch

 

9th Feb - Arolla ski touring

~ Saturday 9th February 2008

The hot sunny weather continues! Today, a trip up the Mont Rouges above Arolla ski area. This is a great intro day tour, and also gives access to some steep skiing in couloirs on the NE face - the stuff you look at from the ski area café.

heading up to Mont Rouges, with the Pas de Chevre in the background

8 Feb - ski touring

~ Friday 8th February 2008

Warm and sunny touring today, on Pic d'Artsinol above the Evolene ski area. This is a great intro to touring, using the lifts then skinning for 1.5 hours to a great summit with superb views - Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. The ski down back in to the Evolene area is 1600m vertical drop!

The top of the Evolene lifts, chilly early morning

In the sun just below the top

 

3 feb - sun, powder - and wind

~ Sunday 3rd February 2008

Beautiful weather, snowfall all day yesterday, perfect ski conditions today! The view from the front door this morning, north face of the Pigne D'Arolla...

 

Although, by mid afternoon there was a southerly gale blowing, 100mph gusts at 3000m, and the Pigne disappeared in a cloud of spindrift..

31st Jan - winter is back!

~ Thursday 31st January 2008

At last, cold and a little fresh snow. With more forecast for the next few days, maybe it's the end of the amazingly warm weather. Hopefully the warm spell actually did some good, settling the unstable windblown snowpack from the early winter.

Great tracks appearing all over the place today at Arolla. Here's Janine's "first powder turns" smile

25th Jan - blue sky ice climbing

~ Friday 25th January 2008

Well, the Giette pillar collapsed today. Sorry, no "action" shots!

Great conditions yesterday on the Cascade de Veisivi - This gets no sun at all, and is getting fatter by the day. Scottish ex-pat Graeme Ettle here on pitch 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Kandersteg today there was good, wet ice with teams on several classic routes. It's warm though - Holes are appearing, and colder weather would be nice! 

22nd jan - icicle cracks!

~ Tuesday 22nd January 2008

Warm weather and lots of snow melt have had a dramatic effect on the Giette freestanding pitch!

Compare this to this, only a week ago.

Still, ice is still good higher in the valley and lots of new snow high up is great news for the ski season. Conditions have been good the last few days at Arolla, Evolene, Thyons and Super St Bernard.

17th jan - Zinal ice

~ Friday 18th January 2008

A trip round to Zinal today. Loads of snow there too,so skis or snowshoes are useful. Good ice on le Livre, 3/4,  Pistes de Fond area.  2 pitches to a bolt belay below the final short pitch. This is steep and harder than the rest of the route, so maybe best to abseil from the belay (There is a tree up  and left of the finish if you do this last pitch)

15th Jan - cold and snowy

~ Wednesday 16th January 2008

Great piste snow at Evolene yesterday, but strong winds overnight moved loads of snow - drifting over the road to Arolla. Lots of new windslab, so pick routes carefully!

Still, good ice again today at the Cascade de l'Usine Électrique, Arolla. The first pitch is getting shorter each time as more snow drifts in!

 

14th Jan- Back on ice

~ Monday 14th January 2008

Cascade des Glacons de la Giette was hard work today with a covering of fresh snow. Still good ice though, and only a short walk from the road - you can see it when driving past la Tour to les Hauderes. 2 pitches, WI4 then 5. 50m ropes reach the ground in 1 abseil from the trees.

Top of pitch 1, screw belay

13th Jan - Powder!

~ Sunday 13th January 2008

Blue skies and 50-60cm of fresh snow today at Arolla - great skiing! Better still, skiing at Arolla is half price till the end of Jan, a bargain at 16.50CHF per day.

fresh tracks at Arolla

11th January - Steep ice!

~ Friday 11th January 2008

Great ice conditions today on the Cascade de Veisivi, les Hauderes. Fantasic steep climbing in a great situation. Three   long pitches, WI 3, 5+, 5. The approach from les Hauderes is easy at the moment with quite hard snow, but the climb funnels huge avalanches from the Dents de Veisivi, so not a place to be after a big snowfall!pitch, 5+, Cascade de VeisiviPitch 3, WI5

 

8th jan - Good ice at Arolla

~ Tuesday 8th January 2008

cold, sunny day. The ice has survived the last 2 days of warm weather. Good climbing on a quick visit to La Gouille.Andy at la Gouille

7th jan - warm, but ice still good

~ Monday 7th January 2008

woken this morning by the sound of rain on the roof...

Still plenty of ice around at the moment. The Evolene "Coop" icefall was good yesterday, but the forecast is warm wet and windy all week, oh dear.

Coop icefall above Evolene

A lot of areas have been a bit too dry for ice formation, so hopefully a wet week followed by a freeze will sort things out

4th January

~ Saturday 5th January 2008

 

Good conditions on la cascade des glacons de la Giette. This is visible from the road, opposite la Tour. Walk from here or from les Hauderes. 2 pitches, first a "cauliflower" grade 4, then a steep free standing 5. Walk left then abseil from a tree.Cascade des Glacons de la Giette

 

3rd January

~ Saturday 5th January 2008

Great ice this morning on the Cascade d'Evolene. This is the icefall you can see from the road, directly above the Coop!

2 pitches of WI4, with a short free standing pillar on pitch 1. You can avoid this by going left, which makes the route a bit easier. Abseil off from old bolts(!) or trees, or walk but this is much longer.

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