Mountaineering in Les Ecrins

I am just back from a successful week in Les Ecrins with Natalie and Marcus.

We travelled on Monday from Chamonix to La berarde before walking into the Refuge de la Pilatte. The next morning we climbed Mont Gioberney (3352m). The route was in excellent condition. We wore crampons from the hut to the summit and back.

Marcus and Natalie near the summit of Mont Gioberney.

Marcus and Natalie near the summit of Mont Gioberney.

The next day we spent some time climbing on the granite crags of the Ailefroide valley before walking to the Refuge Glacier Blanc. The temperature on Thursday morning was very cold giving great snow conditions for our ascent of the Pic du Glacier d’Arsine (3364m). We climbed the mountain from the Col du Glacier Blanc giving us some fun scrambling before the snow arête beyond. After descending the mountain we ascended the Glacier Blanc to overnight at the Refuge des Ecrins.

Barre des Ecrins from near the Refuge des Ecrins.

Barre des Ecrins from near the Refuge des Ecrins.

Today we climbed Roche Faurio (3730m) before returning to the valley. The conditions on both Roche Faurio and the Glacier Blanc were excellent.

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio.

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio.

 

SPA at Rosyth and Cragging at The Hawkcraig

On Wednesday this week (26th) I was shadowing the second day of a Single Pitch Award (SPA) Assessment being run by Cliff for the City of Edinburgh Council. Amongst other things those being assessed were setting up bottom and top ropes and group abseils as well as being asked to solve problems that may occur on group sessions. The day was at Rosyth quarry and some of the less frequented sections of crag were utilised. It’s worth noting that there’s been a very recent gorse fire above the Heathy section of the crag and this may impact some of the belays; on the day some of the stakes were unusable as the area was still smouldering.

Pamela leading Saracen

Pamela leading Saracen

This afternoon I was out at the Hawkcraig, Aberdour, with Pamela and Mike. A little breezy in the Westerlies, but the crag had dried quickly after this morning’s rain and we cimbed 6 routes and spent some time looking at options for climbing in series when teaching leading.

Chaine du Bargy

Rosie climbing above the Col de la Colombiere.

Rosie climbing above the Col de la Colombiere.

 

The Chaine du Bargy is a brilliant area approximately one hour from Saint Gervais. It is very popular with road cyclists where the principal challenge is the Col de la Colombiere. Rosie and I cycled this yesterday.

Today, we climbed on the Falaise de la Colombiere. This gives excellent routes on quality limestone up to 80 metres high. I have climbed on other cliffs in this area previously. For example, on the 4th September 2012 Martin and I climbed on the Pointe Du Midi. A report can be found on the blog.

I would recommend this area to anyone who likes climbing multi pitch limestone, completing via ferratas, hill walking or road cycling in a beautiful unspoilt area which receives lots of sunshine.

Rosie cycling towards the Col de la Colombiere.

Rosie cycling towards the Col de la Colombiere.

 

 

Ski Touring in the Silvretta

Descending from a summit in the Silvretta during a recent ski tour.

Descending from a summit in the Silvretta during a recent ski tour.

The ClimbNow team ski tour in large number of areas each winter and spring including the following regions;

  • Vanoise
  • Haute Maurienne
  • Gran Paradiso
  • Bernese Oberland
  • Mont Blanc Massif
  • Swiss Valais
  • Queyras
  • Andorra
  • Kashmir
  • Scottish Highlands

Another area visited by both Paul and Euan is the Silvretta region. A full itinerary is now available on the ClimbNow site detailing a possible week long course in this brilliant area.

Skinning in the Silvretta

Skinning in the Silvretta

 

Ettrick Hills Walking Group Leader Training

Out with Cliff over the last two days working on a Walking Group Leader Training Course for The City of Edinburgh Council Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. We based ourselves in the Ettrick Valley with the team camping near the bothy, which allowed communal cooking and chat on a fairly miserable Saturday evening. The training covered navigation, group management, flora, fauna, emergency/incident responses etc. On Saturday we had heavy showers and hail. Sunday was much more pleasant with broken cloud and sunshine giving great views from the ridges above the Ettrick Valley.

Aberdour Sea Cliff

John and I have been out today at the Aberdour (Hawcraig) sea cliff with Cathy, George and Gayle. The forecast was for rain at 1pm but this did not materialise and we had sun all day. A few of the routes have nesting sea birds which are best avoided.

Cathy on 'The Beast'. A strenuous little crack route.

Cathy on ‘The Beast’. A strenuous little crack route.

George placing gear on 'Eech'.

George placing gear on ‘Eech’.

 

‘End of Silence’ and other routes at Weem

Martin and I used the last day of good weather today before the rain arrives to return to Weem to climb some more of the excellent sport routes. Last week, I attempted ‘End of Silence’ but did not complete the route due to the heat. Today was overcast and the route went on the first redpoint. Martin climbed six routes on the main face. Martin reported all to be of excellent quality. One or two of the routes could do with some more traffic but generally most routes are clean.

Martin enjoying one of the excellent routes at Weem.

Martin enjoying one of the excellent routes at Weem.

Glen Coe

Simon and I headed up to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today and climbed the classic corner of Unicorn. The rock was dry and the route provided excellent climbing requiring a good variety of techniques. Some care is required with loose rock above the main corner. There was one other team out in the coire who climbed Tilt.

Simon enjoying the first pitch of Unicorn

Simon enjoying the first pitch of Unicorn

There’s still some snow around in the coire with Broad Gully looking complete from the top of the scree cone.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Walking in the Pentland Hills

Martin and I have been working today for an events company called Maximillion. We had a great day out walking in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. The weather was perfect and lots of walkers and cyclists were out enjoying the sunshine.

The Pentland Hills.

The Pentland Hills.

Climbing in the sun at Weem

Yesterday, I was out at Weem climbing with Ivor, Michael, Graham, Pamela and Kenny. Weem crags are located near Aberfeldy and provide both excellent traditional and sports climbs. The routes were all dry and the ‘side wall’ area of Weem Rock was very hot in the afternoon sun.

Climbing on the steep side wall at Weem Crag (photo by Ivor McCourt)

Climbing on the steep side wall at Weem Crag (photo by Ivor McCourt)