Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog


~ Monday 31st March 2014

Up the Tsalion couloir this morning. This is a classic Arolla steep descent and has been skied a few times recently, but after 2 hours booting up the thing in nasty crust neither of us felt like skiing back down, or waiting for it to soften! We went Down via the Col de la Tsa instead, which in winter is a fast ski back to Arolla from the Tsa and a far cry from the long hot slog of the summer descent.

Typical "selfie" frown. Arcteryx Gamma SL in action, brilliant, lightweight softshell.

The steep bit below the Plans de Bertol - looks like it will be skis off here for the PDG

Another Perfect Day in Arolla

~ Saturday 29th March 2014

The best day of the week in fact...having forgotten the camera, blue skies and powder were guaranteed! We had a chiily ride up the Arolla drag lifts - no queues or waiting here! - and a slightly lumpy ski down in to the Pra Gra valley before skinning up (and warming up) the 20 minute climb to Pt 2959. Then it was back to normal, big turns in cold, untracked powder down the north side into the Vallon des Ignes. All too soon the skins were on again for the long, hot and sweaty climb to the Pointe de Vouasson. Did I mention the heat? Hot, damned hot. Like skinning in a jungle. Happily someone with a good sense of direction had made a nice track (Is it my imagination or are all tracks slightly steeper in PDG years? And whoever made the track to the Pigne must have been blindfolded or drunk. Or both) Anyway, it was hot...but we got there in the end to find only a handful of tracks in the glacier descent to Evolene, so it was fresh tracks all the way down. Skiing direct down the stream bed can sometimes be a battle - it's called "la Merdesson" after all - but the snow stayed skiable all the way down through Arbey with only a couple of patches of grass, and soon afterwards we made the final turn onto the road 3 metres from the café in Lanna. Perfect end to a great week with the Eagle Ski Club.

Arolla Ski Touring

~ Thursday 27th March 2014

Another good day in Arolla, lots of fresh tracks in the morning then some "slightly steeper" tracks in the afternoon.

Climbing up the Cassorte gully before...

...belayed sideslip down the other side. Not a good place to fall!

The ski down from the Cassorte is one of the best around Arolla. Steep to start, then wide open slopes down to Lac Bleu, from where a bit of energetic leaping around in the woods leads to a café.

A careful sideslip into the Satarma couloir...

...was worth it.

Arolla Ski Touring

~ Wednesday 26th March 2014

More fresh tracks today on 2 of the Arolla classic descents. Great skiing but slightly unromantic route names - first down the north side of "point 2959", then back up the lifts for an afternoon descent of "the slope behind the third cross on the left", or whatever it's really called.

The third cross on the left.

Evolene ski Touring

~ Monday 24th March 2014

Up the Pallanche de la Crettaz today. Hot sun and yesterday's fresh snow made for sweaty skinning, but skiing the shady north side more than made up for the effort. Fresh tracks in great snow all the way down through la Niva, and just a few chamois for company. And you can see our tracks from Evolene! Perfect day touring!

Pigne d'Arolla

~ Wednesday 19th March 2014

A rare day off work, but no rest with the PDG date fast approaching. After an excellent 3 days training in Arolla with the PDG team members this week it was another early start with my neighbour for the Pigne d'Arolla this morning.

Chilly on top of the Pigne

Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn from the summit

Fine view to the Bertol hut, scene of yesterday's efforts. 

It's been a long time since it snowed so conditions are "firm" to say the least, making  for a fast rattle off the summit and an exciting descent of the Vuibé glacier.

Next-door neighbour descending the Vuibé glacier like he had a train to catch!

Grimentz and Zinal (again!)

~ Saturday 15th March 2014

 Back in Grimentz and Zinal again this week, but it was a different world to last week. With perfect conditions last week the surprise was not how good the skiing was, but how few people were out skiing. When there's calf deep untracked snow everywhere it's not hard to find great skiing - it might have been the "week of the season". This week, with no new snow, strong winds at the weekend and a huge rise in temperatures, finding decent skiing was more challenging...As it turned out there was plenty of character-building crust, but also plenty of hidden powder and some perfect spring if you timed it right. Not a bad week at all!

Near the top of the Diablon before perfect sunny spring skiing

Skinning the ridge of the Diablon before skiing the sunny south side to the Moiry dam. 

Perfect spring snow off the "wrong" side of the Brinta on the way to Vercorin

The heat caused some big avalanches too - big wet slides on sunny slopes in the afternoon and some huge full depth slides on north slopes. These 2 pics are of opposite sides of the same hill!

Huge full depth, north facing...the bowl to the right of the skin track up the Brinta from Réchy. 

Huge full depth, south facing. Looking into Orxival from the Roc d'Orxival. Spot the ski tracks out of the classic Orxival left-hand...


Ski News

~ Friday 7th March 2014

It's been a busy few weeks. India, Grimentz, Pdg, Haute Route, Grimentz again...Lots of news on the Facebook page but here are a few pictures from this week in Grimentz and Zinal. Could it have been the week of the year (so far)? Maybe...Blue skies and powder and - even by Grimentz and Zinal standards - there was no-one off piste.

50m from the piste, but fresh tracks...

Ready to go in the Val de Réchy

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