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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Vertic-Halle Climbing Wall

~ Thursday 29th November 2012

 At last, a good climbing wall in the Valais. The Vertic-Halle in Saxon claims to be the first climbing gym in the Valais which isn't really true, but it's easily the best with a proper 15m lead wall, bouldering, café and little shop. At CHF23.- a session for adults it's not cheap but the routes are good and there's lots to go at. There's a refreshing lack of red tape too - just turn up, pay and climb. No paperwork or proving you can tie your own shoelaces. 

FaceWest Mail Order

~ Friday 23rd November 2012

 Big thanks to FaceWest for their excellent service. Quick replies to e-mails and very quick delivery - what more can you ask? They currently have a great range of gear, as well as excellent advice and some very up to date info on their website, including this very thorough avalanche page. and a good, no-nonsense ski guide page

 

Autumn News

~ Thursday 15th November 2012

A long wait at the garage while my car was fixed - although they did vacuum lots of child mess from the back seats which must have taken ages - gave me plenty of time to catch up on the local winter news. Lots to report! 

Firstly, thanks to La-Haut in Sion for excellent service - again. My dynafit TLT ski boots now have new rivets and buckles. Best of all, it was free! (You have to live in Switzerland for a while to appreciate how exciting it is to get something for nothing)

New Lifts! All over the place it seems. Big news is the new chairlifts in Nax, replacing the rickety old 1970s drag lifts. New lifts in Vercorin and Anzere too. If you really like drag lifts don't worry, there's still Arolla.

Climbing Wall - until now there's been no proper climbing wall in the Valais, despite a huge number of local climbers. The Vertic-Halle in Saxon is now open, promising the biggest wall in Western Switzerland. 

British Mountain Guides do it on film - lots of effort this summer has produced this excellent short video of the BMG at work. Lots of it filmed around Arolla. 

 

Finale Rock Climbing

~ Wednesday 14th November 2012

Driving away fro the Alps on Tuesday it was snowing heavily - luckily I'd put the snow tires on on Monday or I'd not have made it over the col de la Forclaz. Anyway, a few hours later we were driving along the Italian coast in the sun, although Italian roadworks and drivers were more dangerous than snow-covered alpine passes. We stayed El Quijote B and B in Cisano, which was cheap and very friendly, and in a nice little village with climbing shop, bakers, restaurants and a bar.  What else do you need? 

Aiguille du Midi

~ Thursday 1st November 2012

Here are a couple of pictures from Tuesday in Chamonix. The Aiguille du Midi lift closes this weekend, but we used it this week for a traverse of the Pointes Lachenal. Lots of fresh snow, chilly, but a beautiful day. There's some good climbing here, feeling quite "Scottish" for a couple of pitches of snowy mixed ground. A good introduction to trickier climbing and dealing with winter cold. 

 

 

 Sadly yesterday we were frustrated  by the weather - windier than forecast with lots of blowing snow. We battled round to the start of the Cosmiques Arete before finally admitting that to was too windy. In fact it was challenging enough getting back up the ridge to the lift station, and we arrived to hear the lift was about to close. Phew. 

Mountain Biking

~ Thursday 1st November 2012

 The forecast for the first snow of the winter came as a bit of a shock. Last year it was dry in the Alps right up to early December - you could walk in trainers at 3000m in November. Not this year though - 15cm fell in the garden last weekend and there's more forecast. 

I just managed to squeeze in a high bike ride last week. A great loop from Evolene, starting with 500m downhill then a long climb - very long climb - up the Val des Dix to the Mandelon alpage. Here the road ends and a track leads round into the Evolene ski area via some tricky singletrack, with excellent views of the Dent Blanche, Matterhorn, and the Pas de Lona - the last col of the Grand Raid. Then it's 800m down, almost all singletrack. 

Avalanche Training

~ Thursday 1st November 2012

 Yes, winter is here and it's time for avalanche training, and the first few wobbly ski turns of the winter - always an exciting time! I did 2 days in Saas Fee last week for the Peak Leaders BASI ski intructor courses. Excellent snow on the Saas pistes, perfect weather, and some very enthusiastic students who'd already done 4 weeks of skiing and courses - the start of a long season!

 

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