Saturday, August 31, 2013

Swiss 3000's Part II

After leaving Zermatt we headed to the small village of St Luc for the second half of our Swiss 3000 week. A short bus and train ride saw us arrive mid afternoon after a lovely walk down from the Hornli Hut in the morning. We then headed up to the Cabane Bella Tolla where we had the luxury of free hot showers and some fantastic food once again. The next morning we rose early and climbed Bella Tolla (3025m) before descending back to the valley for a restaurant lunch. We then climbed up to the Cabane Becs de Bossons at 2980m for our final night. This hut has been refurbished since I last visited it and had a beaitiful glazed viewing room to make the most of the stunning views from Mont Blanc in one direction to the Weishorn in the other.
Our final morning saw us tick off the Pointe de la Tsevalire (3026m) and then the more scrambley Becs de Bossons (3149m) to finish a cracking week. Thanks all!  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swiss 3000 Week

I have been joined for the week in the Swiss Alps by Steven, Steve, Matt, Charlie, Andy, Rob and Will for our Swiss 3000 summits week. 
We met in Zermatt on Monday morning and headed up to the beautiful alpine hut, Fluealp. This hut has won awards for its food and did not disappoint! It also has some stunning views of the Matterhorn and placed us well for our first summit yesterday morning, Pfluero at just over 3300m. 

We then headed back into Zermatt for lunch before using the cable car and a 2 hour walk up tothe amazingly  situated  Hornli Hut on the Matterhorn. The hut is commonly used as the starting point for an ascent of the Hornli Ridge but just getting to it at 3200m gives a great walk with some exposure and fixed equipment and of course some stunning views - normally! We walked in during a snow storm but this only made the views this morning all the more special. It is also a brilliant place to be and was fairly quiet because of the snow on the mountain. 

We are now heading over to St Luc for the next two nights and some more summits, fingers crossed! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Baquet-Rebuffat Route, Aiguille du Midi

Our inspiration for the routes we have climbed this week has come from a beautiful coffee table book, published this year, simply titled "Mont Blanc, The Finest Routes" and written by Philippe Batoux. 
Yesterdays route was no exception as we headed up the Midi to bag another rock route in the sunshine. The Baquet-Rebuffat route is graded TD and has a couple of crux pitches at 6a with the remaining ten or so pitches consistently around 5b/5c. It gives some stunning climbing on beautiful, knuckle shredding granite and the views around you are stunning. The downside of this accessibility and aesthetic delight is that it tends to be busy and yesterday was no exception. Nonetheless continental banter kept spirits high and we had another cracking day out. 

Migot Spur, Aiguille de Chardonnet

Following our rock route on Pointe Lachenal, Dave and I decided we fancied some mixed action on some snow and ice. We used a bad weather day on Monday to walk upto the Albert Premiere Hut. The hut is currently undergoing a fairly major refurbishment and so I am sure will be lovely. As it was the roof leaked and we got a little damp even inside the dining room! 

Nonetheless a 2am breakfast saw us following the lights of a guided party crossing the Glacier du Tour as they headed to the Forbes Arete on the Auiguille de Chardonnet. Our objective was the Migot Sour, a striking line up the North Face of the Chardonnet graded Difficile. 

The bergschrund was a fairly rude wake up call but was quickly dispatched and we moved quickly up over loose rocky ground, over a slender snow ridge and through some pitches of ice. As the sun rose behind us we moved together up good neve to the summit. 

The descent was fairly involved as we had only taken one 60m rope with us, necessitating a few awkward abseils but we enjoyed lunch back at the hut and the pleasure of viewing the whole of our route with a cake in hand. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Contamine Route, Pointe Lachenal

Dave and I arrived in Chamonix on Friday after driving out from the UK. We bivvied at the Plan du Midi on Friday night and then climbed the Contamine Route on Pointe Lachenal on Saturday. 

The route is a 500m rock route graded TD with crux pitches of 6a+ and we felt a little breathless topping out at 3600m. I also managed to get very sunburnt ankles after rolling my trousers up in  true Brit on holiday style! A great first day. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Away in the Alps

I am heading off to the Alps tonight until the 1st September for a mixture of climbing with friends and then running our Swiss 3000's course. I will keep a check on the emails when I can but may be sporadically out of contact. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Last couple of days on the ML week

For our overnight expedition I took the Mountain Leader trainees up onto the Carneddau via the Glyderau from Capel Curig. We had an overnight camp and night navigation exercise in Cwm Lloer where we met up with the assessment team on their 2nd night of camping. It was a little damp overnight but this morning it brightened up nicely as I joined the assessment team once again for their final day. A great week with both teams and thanks to all who joined us.