30th July Saturday Morning Cragging

Rosie leading at Servoz.

Rosie and I have spent the morning at Servoz crag. Details of this crag can be found in Chamonix cragging guide.

25th to 29th July Zermatt 4000 metre peaks

The summit ridge of the Duforspitze. The Matterhorn is poking through the clouds.

The Breithorn summit with the Matterhorn in the background.

Climbers approaching Pollux and Castor.

I have just had an excellent week in and around Zermatt. On monday we climbed Pollux via its south west ridge. This gives a nice mixed ridge followed by a snow ridge leading to the summit. We descended from here to stay at the very welcoming Valle D’Ayas Guides Hut. The next morning we traversed Breithorn West and Central before the weather broke. The ridge between these two peaks is knife edge in places with a good view down the steep north face.

From wednesday to friday we have been based at the Monte Rosahutte. This is an excellent, comfy new hut. From this hut we climbed the Duforspitze which is the second highest peak in Western Europe. The final ridge and descending ridge and fixed ropes provided some enjoyable, exposed mixed ground.

24th July Le Bettex

Rosie at Le Bettex with the Aiguille Rouge in the distance.

Rosie and I have been out cycling this morning visiting the villages of Le Bettex and Saint Nicolas De Veroce. Le Bettex has been used as a stage finish in the Tour De France previously in 1990.

Of importance to mountaineers is the new snow that was visible this morning. During the night new snow had fallen in Les Aravis down to approximately 2200m. We could also see the Aiguille Rouge today. Again, new (and old) snow is visible to low elevations.

22nd July 2011 Bramois

Unknown climber at Bramois.

Today I have been climbing at Bramois. This is a Gneiss crag located near to Sion in Switzerland. It can be found in the Plaisir Schweiz guidebook series. This collection of guidebooks provide information on many great crags which can be visited when the higher mountains are out of condition.

20th to 21st July 2011 Blumlisalphutte

Heading towards the Wyssi Frau at 4.30am.

Since sunday, the weather in the Alps has been unsettled. This has meant that due to the cold air flow there are large accumulations of new snow. We headed to the Blumlisalphutte above Kandersteg as the forecast suggested the weather may improve during the night and the early morning.

At 4.00am we left the hut for the Wyssi Frau. The glacier was fairly complex due to the new snow. Unfortunately we did not make the top. Of note, we found areas of soft windslab.

On the plus side, the hut was excellent. Very clean, friendly and great food. I hope to go back to this area soon as the mountains look excellent.

17th to 19th July Mont Blanc

L'Aiguille De Midi from Aiguille De Gouter.

The summit of Mont Blanc with sastrugi indicating wind direction.

Looking towards the Grand Couloir.

On the 17th July I headed to the Tete Rousse Hut with a team to climb Mont Blanc. The weather was very poor with heavy rain below 2600m and snow above this. This meant that the Tramway was closed so we had to walk from the top of the Bellevue lift. However, with this heavy precipitation and the freezing level at 3000m dropping to 2600m it meant that the Grand Couloir was well frozen and silent.

We summited on the 18th July. Conditions were quite hard due to the large quantity of fresh snow and the strong winds.

The lower peaks had been shrouded in cloud all day but we could still see the tops of peaks such as Grande Casse (Tignes) and Barre Des Ecrins.

18th to 22nd July Arolla, Saas Fee and Larses

The Bertol Hut from the Aiguille above.

The Saas Fee peaks from Lagginhorn 4010m.

For the past few days I have been over at Arolla and Saas Fee. Highlights have included climbing the Tete Blanche (3710m) from the Bertol Hut and the Weissmeis (4023m) and Lagginhorn (4010m) from Saas Grund.

The top photo shows the Bertol Hut. This photo is taken from the Aiguille that stands behind the hut. The Aiguille provides a nice two pitch route which can be ascended after dinner. It is about UIAA III+ in difficulty.

The track currently ascending the Weismeiss passes very close to some large serac collapses. The conditions on the Lagginhorn were excellent with dry rock on the lower half and good neve on the upper half.

Today, Rosie, Paul and I have been climbing at a nice little crag above Passy called Larses. Details of this crag can be found in the guidebook Vallee De L’Arve.

8th July 2011 Le Brevent, Voie Frison-Roche

Climbers on Voie Frison Roche.

I was out today climbing on Le Brevent which is in the Aiguille Rouge above Chamonix. The route I climbed was Voie Frison-Roche. This is a 220m long route which follows cracks and ramps in the most part. Access is via Le Brevent Telecabine followed by a downhill walk to the base of the route. The route finishes five minutes walk from the station.

Details of the route can be found in the ‘Sites D’Escalade De La Vallee De Chamonix’ and the ‘Aiguille Rouge’ guidebooks.

6th and 7th July 2011 Refuge Vallot

Descending the Aiguille De Gouter.

For the last two days I have been out of the valley attempting Mont Blanc via the Gouter Route. On this route it is necessary to cross Le Grand Couloir. The quantity of snow in the couloir has decreased massively during this hot period meaning that stonefall is now an issue.

We made it over the Aiguille De Gouter and Dome De Gouter to the Refuge Vallot but had to turn around due to poor visibility and very strong winds.

5th July 2011 Arete Des Cosmiques

I have been out today on the Cosmiques Arete. The route was in good condition, we wore crampons the whole way. However, due to the warm conditions of the last couple of weeks there are now more loose blocks around.

The crux section of the Arete Des Cosmiques.