Les Ecrins and the Mont Blanc Massif

The start of this week in the Alps brought snow and even avalanche warnings being issued in the Mont Blanc Massif. Therefore, after climbing the Aiguille de la Charlanon, Rob, Andy, Mike and I escaped to Les Ecrins for a couple of days.

On Monday we walked to the Refuge de la Pilatte before traversing Mont Gioberney via the North East Ridge and the Voie Normale. The cold winds had covered the North East Ridge in rime and verglas which made the crux UIAA IV crack pitch pretty hard. It had a very Scottish feel. This should now have all cleared with the warm weather.

A local French Guide on the crux crack.

We spent the next three days in the Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont Blanc Massif climbing; Via Corda Alpina, Athina on the Contrefort de Droite, L’Index (2595m) and the Arete des Cosmiques.

All these routes were in good condition. The rock on Athina is not as good as that on the routes further left on this buttress and some of it should be treated with care. The Arete des Cosmiques still has enough snow on it to wear crampons the whole way.

Cool sky above the Cosmiques.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

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!

Two More Days with the Alpine Academy

I have just spent the last two days with the Arc’teryx Alpine Academy in the Mont Blanc Massif. This excellent event is held each June in Chamonix with the aim of providing climbers and mountaineers with skills training.

The weather has been mixed over the last couple of days with further snowfall at altitude. However, we have had two great days out. The first at the Aiguille du Midi and today at the Mer de Glace.


Arcteryx Alpine Academy

I arrived in the Alps yesterday evening to start my summer season and today I have been teaching on the Arcteryx Alpine Academy. This very successful training event is held each year in the Chamonix valley.

Today I was out on the Vallee Blanche near the Aiguille du Midi looking at skills such as crevasse rescue. There is a lot of deep snow around. This should be taken into account when planning objectives.