Final Day of the Ski Season

Yesterday was the final day of my ski and winter season. Following about 50cm of fresh snow on Thursday night we had great conditions at Le Grand Montets.

We began the day by skiing many lines off the Tabe chairlift as the visibility was poor and the many trees in the area aid depth perception. In the afternoon the skies cleared and we had a great time skiing the classic runs, La Face and Glacier des Rognons.

I will add more photos from the week to the facebook page.

Off piste on Le Face. Great powder skiing yesterday.

Off piste on Le Face. Great powder skiing yesterday.

Culter Fells, Trossachs, Ochils and Callander Crags

An interesting week in Central Scotland for myself. On Sunday Jen, Mick and I were out walking in the Culter Fells. This is a lovely quiet area of South Lanarkshire with rolling hills and picturesque valleys. We walked from Cowgill up Hudderstone and via Dod Hill to the Culter Water for our return. It’s worth noting that it’s lambing time in this area at the moment, so care should be taken to minimise disturbing sheep if out and about; we deliberately changed our intended route on the day for this reason.

Jen and Mick on Hudderstone with Tinto in the distance.

Jen and Mick on Hudderstone with Tinto in the distance.

On Wednesday I was out with Mike and a school group for Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors who were canoeing in Loch Ard in the Trossachs. Thursday I was out again with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors school group in Dollar Glen in the Ochils.

After work on Thursday John and I headed to Callander Crags for an evening of sports climbing with me finishing off the routes I hadn’t climbed there and John climbing all of the currently bolted routes with the exception of the left hand line, which looks to be a closed project at the moment.

The hills and crags in the area are all currently very dry for the time of year.

Powder Skiing at Le Grand Montets

Following fresh snow overnight down to 1000m and fresh snowfall throughout the day, there was some good skiing to be had at the Grand Montets ski area. The slopes were quiet and the lift queues short allowing a number of good off piste runs to be completed.

The Aiguille d'Argentiere during a brief clearing in the weather.

The Aiguille d’Argentiere during a brief clearing in the weather.

Crevasse Rescue and La Face

Today the weather has been challenging in the Alps with persistent snowfall and poor visibility which started yesterday afternoon. We did however have a productive day at Le Grand Montets.

We spent the first part of the day skinning out of the ski area in the direction of the Glacier d’Argentiere. Once away from any hazard presented by skiers we covered roping up for glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills.

On return to the resort we spent time skiing the fresh snow. The highlight of the day was a descent of the classic glaciated off piste run, La Face.

A low body position which greatly aids hoisting.

A low body position which greatly aids hoisting.

 

Off Piste at the Grand Montets

The team and I had a nice days off piste skiing today at the Grand Montets ski area (located at Argentiere near Chamonix). We had a good day skiing moguls, firm snow and spring snow.

The weather was good until 2pm when the weather set in with snow at the height of the half way station.

Off piste at Le Grand Montets.

Off piste at Le Grand Montets.

Col Freshfield and the Vallee Blanche

Today I have been out with a team from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines above Chamonix.

We spent the day skiing from the Aiguille du Midi down the Vallee Blanche but on the way skinned up to the Col Freshfield (3625m) on the Italian/French border.

High on the Vallee Blanche.

High on the Vallee Blanche.

The Vallee Blanche is becoming lean in the icefall section and very soon will not be passable. If the new snow arrives tomorrow onwards it will be a serious proposition as the remaining safe snow bridges will be hard to find.

Interesting snow conditions low down on the Vallee Blanche!

Interesting snow conditions low down on the Vallee Blanche!

Curved, Castle and Ledge

For the last couple of days I have been guiding and instructing on behalf of www.highmountainguides.com. The aim of the two days was preparation for climbing the Matterhorn.

Alongside Mountain Guides Alan Kimber and Jonathon Preston, the team and I visited Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe on Friday. Here we climbed Curved Ridge before descending the route of ascent. This is great practice for the Matterhorn as the only way off the summit is to climb down the route of ascent!

Descending Curved Ridge.

Descending Curved Ridge.

Yesterday we visited Ben Nevis were we climbed up Castle Ridge and down Ledge Route. Ledge Route finishes at the bottom of Number 5 Gully and here we used an axe.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Kirrie Hill

Mick and I had a delightful day sport climbing in the sun at Kirrie Hill, Kirriemuir today. There’d been showers in the morning, but the crag tends to stay quite dry and drys quickly, so we had a very pleasant afternoon climbing a good number of routes.

Mick on Sombre Reptiles.

Mick on Sombre Reptiles.

Ben Lomond

Mick and I had a good day today taking a wander up Ben Lomond from Rowardennan and descending via Ptarmigan.

Me and Mick in cloud on the summit of Ben Lomond.

Me and Mick in cloud on the summit of Ben Lomond.

The hill was generally dry and we didn’t have any rain during the day, but we were in cloud from around 800m and the terrain was wet where in the cloud.

The Pentlands

Fiona, Joe and I were out today in the Pentland Hills with an excellent group from Grangemouth High School.

Joe and one of the group high on the screes underneath Caerketton Hill with Edinburgh in the background.

Joe and one of the group high on the screes underneath Caerketton Hill with Edinburgh in the background.

It was cool to start with after an overnight frost, but was warm in the sun later on with light variable winds. The Pentlands are dry underfoot at the moment after the recent weather.