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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Eagle Ski Club Winter Room Tour Part 2

~ Wednesday 24th February 2016

Part 2 of the winter room blog...

After 3 nights out we were starting to run low on supplies. There was a 1.5kg bag of polenta on the shelf so we wouldn't have starved, but we decided to make a quick trip back over the Pas de Chevre to Arolla to get proper food.

With real coffee, flushing toilets and WiFi, Arolla seemed quite cosmopolitan for a change. The village at the end of the road....or the beginning. All depends on point of view. Anyway, with full rucksacks, and softened by our quick taste of luxury, we cheated and used the lift to get back up the hill. After that it was back to the plan, up pt 2959 then down in to the Vallon des Ignes before climbing to the Aiguilles Rouges hut. This hut has spacious winter rooms, and a famous (even in summer) toilet. One of the last "long drops", you get some nice turns on the way there but don't forget your skins for the return.

We'd hoped to go up the Pointe de Vouasson and down to the Evolene on the last day. This is a fine descent, 2000m vertical on a mostly shady aspect, but sadly the weather had other ideas. Skiing the glacier in poor vis didn't appeal, so we followed our tracks down and skied to la Gouille instead. Only 1600m, great snow, shocking visibility at times, but a fine end to the week.

Eagle Ski Club Winter Room Tour - Part 1

~ Sunday 21st February 2016

This might be have to be re-titled the Winter Room Mystery Tour next year! Originally inspired by Eagle Ski Club President Rob Collisters yearbook article on finding "sustainable" adventure closer to home by touring out of season in the hut winter rooms, the plan was to tackle the West Oberland Haute Route - a classic tour which can be busy in season. Unfortunately heavy snow and strong winds added to the already unusual snow-pack, and an easily ski-cut triggered windslab on the warm-up day confirmed doubts - time for a plan B.

Ploughing up to the Bouquetins Hut above Arolla wasn't a disappointment - deserted mountains, no tracks in sight, and fine weather.

col de l'eveque ski tour arolla mountain guide

Day 2 saw us trail-breaking to the Col de l'Éveque. This is the first col on the last day of the Cham-Zermatt Haute Route and is busy in season, but today was deserted. As was the Point d'Oren, a superb view-point and a fine ski.

point d'oren ski mountain guide

From there we skied fantastic snow down from the Col du Petit Mont Collon to the Otemma glacier. This, again, is part of the Cham-Zermatt "motorway" but there was no sign of life at all - exactly what we were looking for!

Feeling like the only ski-tourers in the Alps, tired legs ploughed a deep trail to the Singla bivvy. This is a great spot in a fine position on a rocky knoll, but impossible to heat - we cooked dinner and managed to raise the temperature to a balmy 6 degrees...

Next day after a quick ski down to the glacier we started the long climb to the Col des Portons. This was sunny and the snow had stabilised, but the Col itself was looking more challenging the closer we got. I'd skied down this a few years ago, but now it was a steep scramble on rock and snow - at least we got to use ropes and crampons!

From the col a long but gentle climb leads to the summit of the Pigne d'Arolla. The Vignettes side had been thoroughly heli-skied, but there were no tracks Dix side. Descending the Serpentine was quite serious skiing on windblown snow...

but below there we found excellent powder between the crevasses, linking as many turns as the legs could managed down to the Dix hut where we met the first other people we'd seen in 3 days!

Part 2 coming soon!

Evolene Carnaval

~ Wednesday 10th February 2016

Last night of the Evolene Carnaval last night, with the trial and burning of the Poutratze. At first the town square was eerily deserted...

Then the Peluches escort the Poutratze - the evil "Empaillé" - through the village.

Where he is tried, judged and burned, freeing the village from evil spirits!

This must be thirsty work and it gets quite hectic in the beer tent.

At midnight Carnaval ends, and the Pelluches take off their masks.

Ice Climbing Introduction Course

~ Sunday 7th February 2016

Here's a quick summary of last week's Ice Climbing Intro Course. Conditions weren't ideal - warm weather meant there was no ice at all around Evolene - but Arolla is 600m higher up the valley and provided plenty of climbing despite the spring-like temperatures!

ice climbing arolla mountain guide introduction course

After a warm-up day of top-roped climbing at the Tsa boulder - ideal for working on technique - we moved to La Gouille for some single pitch routes.

ice climbing course arolla introduction alps

And then multi-pitch at the Arolla tunnels, with a multi-abseil descent. This route is just shady enough to escape the thaw.

introduction to ice climbing

A day at the Cascade des Ignes with a snow-shoe approach and some genuine Scottish weather marking the return of winter.

Cascade des Ignes ice climbing mountain guide

And some time leading on single and multi-pitch routes.

ice climbing arolla l'Usine Electrique

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